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ChatGPT on track to surpass 100 million users faster than TikTok or Instagram: UBS

ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that's garnered widespread attention since its launch two months ago, is on track to surpass 100 million monthly active users (MAUs), according to data compiled by UBS.

This would mean that ChatGPT has been adopted more quickly than even TikTok or Meta-owned (META) Instagram. By UBS's count, TikTok took nine months to reach 100 million MAUs, while Instagram took 30 months to hit the same benchmark. ChatGPT could be on pace to break even TikTok's record, gaining 100 million MAUs since its November launch.

"Data on DAUs suggests [ChatGPT] will surpass 100M MAUs in January, a massive achievement in such a short period of time,” UBS analysts wrote in the Feb. 1 note. “In 20 years following the Internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app.”

[Read more: AI-related stocks soar on ChatGPT craze]

Big Tech's taken notice. For one, Microsoft (MSFT) has upped the ante on its investment in OpenAI, ChatGPT's San Francisco-based developer, committing another $10 billion in January. Additionally, the conversational AI app's popularity has been widely spoken about as a threat to the dominance of Google parent Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL).

Though the talk of ChatGPT as a full-fledged "Google killer" is likely overblown, UBS analysts – including Lloyd Walmsley, Karl Kierstead, and Timothy Acuri – believe that the app's success has put Google in a bind.

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"Google is in a catch-22, where it either (1) fails to impress, feeding questions around competitive position or (2) it overcommits, causing concern around (i) monetization risk and (ii) margin erosion," they wrote.

'The market has the potential to be exceedingly large'

UBS research also suggests that the total addressable market that ChatGPT is operating in could be worth as much as $1 trillion – a number that analysts heard from VCs that, while bullish, isn't totally out of the question.

ChatGPT sign on OpenAI website displayed on a screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 31, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
ChatGPT sign on OpenAI website displayed on a screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 31, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"This may seem like a crazy bullish scenario and pricing could fall, but our core point is that the market has potential to be exceedingly large," the UBS analysts wrote.

OpenAI this month announced that it was launching a subscription called "ChatGPT Plus" that's priced starting at $20 a month. There's a chance people will buy in, especially if ChatGPT continues to gain momentum – quite simply, right now, people are talking about it and searching for it, of course, on Google.

"Google Trends data shows that worldwide Google search queries for the terms ‘chatgpt’ and ‘chat gpt’ are near peak volumes since the site was launched in November 2022, with search interest reaching the highest level to-date just a few days ago," the group of analysts wrote on Feb. 1.

Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks and on LinkedIn.

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