Opinion: What’s up with WhatsApp?

WhatsAppWhatsApp, the  little app that could. When I came across WhatsApp for my android phone over a year ago there were only 3 people in my contact list that I could speak to. Back then BlackBerry was the supreme leader (and to some still is). But now 90% of my contact list is using the service, wow. Even my BlackBerry friends are using it, but in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, people are using just about any and every service that is available.
Watching Jan Koum, CEO of WhatsApp on All Things D conference – Dive into mobile, the tech community have learned some interesting stuff about the little company. Jan has pointed out some interesting statistics on users and messaging traffic, 8 billion inbound, 12 billion outbound messages and over 200 million monthly users. To make a comparison to bring this to light, they have more monthly users than Twitter, and more messages on mobile than Facebook. Jan didn’t want to go into more details but with claims like that no wonder there are rumors of Facebook and now Google trying to buy the company.

With this success being reported I feel vindicated for all the claims I’ve made about this app earlier on. I’ve always had the view that no application, service or technology should be locked into any one platform or provider. The famous BBM is one such service that is locked into a platform known as BlackBerry  provided by RIM (now know as simply BlackBerry). By pinning the messaging service to BlackBerry phones people are forced to buy such phones, to some marketing people, that’s grate, but to users on different mobile phones that just won’t cut it, introducing WhatsApp.
The question I have to put to you all. Do you want to be locked into one type of phone to use a service or have the freedom to move around? Companies like Digicel, Lime have capitalized on the BlackBerry craze and have milked users that simply want to chat with their friends. BlackBerry in the smart phone market does not cut it anymore and is left in the dust of competitors like IPhone, Android. The once lure of the popular app has faded and gets competition from other services making headway into the mobile ecosystem.
Needless to say I am very happy that WhatsApp and other communication apps are now providing users with alternative ways of communicating and sharing their lives. Take that BlackBerry.
Fabian Glace
  • JA2BK

    Heck no, that is why WhatsApp is winning. BBM, and even iMessage, aren’t replacing WhatsApp by any measure. Being on all platforms is the best move and hopefully Blackberry decides to even do a cross-platform version. Wouldn’t even mind if you just couldn’t do BBM Video or calls. Something to make it worth it to get a Blackberry, if you desire the extra features, but allow everyone to have access to the app. It would probably give WhatsApp a run for their money… especially if it is a PIN/username vs your phone number.

  • I think WhatsApp owes its growing success to the developing markets, especially those which have been primarily dominated by BlackBerry. With more BlackBerry users migrating to other platforms WhatsApp become the gateway messaging app.

  • I was very surprised when I heard that WhatsApp had more monthly active users that Twitter, however the more I think about it I can see why.

    Similarly, 95% of the smart phones users at my company has Whatsapp (it’s actually a requirement now). I’ll estimate out of those only 10% are on Twitter.

    It didn’t seem like much when it launched, but it’s here to stay.