WhatsApp – The New Coolest Trend
Brian Acton and Jan Koum, with little more than 30 employees and no outside investments, are making millions of dollars annually. Their text messaging app, “WhatsApp” (top most popular app in the world) has become the coolest thing for younger generation. For those, who have not comes across this app –it’s the best substitute for SMS / text messaging. The great thing is that it enables free communication without all those racked up per-message charges. It comes of free with most of Smartphones, but later on, there are options to buy a cheap subscription package. The app’s success and popularity can only be summed up by using a lot of superlatives, especially after considering the fact that it entered the Dutch dictionary as a verb.
Few days earlier, Jan Koum, gave some impressive statistic figures about ‘WhatsApp’ in the DLD conference, held in Munich. He revealed that the apps’ monthly active users has reached and growing beyond 430 million. Another enchanting stat is that, the app exchanges 50 billion messages on a daily basis (500 million images are sent per day), all over the world. At its inception, ‘WhatsApp’ was considered to be a rival for SMS. Now, these stats confirm the fact that the app has clubbed its way and has outflanked, Twitter too (232 million active users). Koum has reiterated that they will focus only on messaging; unlike ‘Snapchat’ or China’s ‘Wechat’ and that the service will continue to remain ad-free.
“We wanted to spend our time building a service people wanted to use because it worked and saved them money and made their lives better in a small way. We knew that we could charge people directly if we could do all those things. We knew we could do what most people aim to do every day: avoid ads.” Acton and Koum said in an interview few months earlier, but there are few, who feel that ‘WhatsApp’ will never become a real business thing (under Silicon Valley Standard), until there were investments or advertising. The no-advertising rant is not the only nonconformist thing. They also haven’t taken the route of building out a platform, on which users can play games or stream YouTube videos.
‘WhatsApp’ is still behind Facebook (1.2 billion active users), but it won’t be long, when this app becomes a global phenomenon in which users are whirled from the traditional social networks. Recently, Professor Daniel Miller, a ethnographic researcher based at University College of London, conducted major study of social media. His teams study the examined the changing social trends across eight countries (India, China, Brazil and the UK). According to this study, in UK, ‘Facebook’ has already has become an old thing. “Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things,” he said. It is indeed true. The teenagers are logging off to avoid using the same site as their older generation. So, for many 16-18 year olds, ‘WhatsApp’ and ‘SnapChat’ is the new coolest thing to stay connected to each other. Miller finished by saying that, “I don’t expect ‘Facebook’ to necessarily disappear altogether. But I think it’s finished for the young.”
The ease of connecting to the network without having to create a specific username is one of the best features of WhatsApp. In Spain, the app is said to have found it way on 95% Smartphones and it’s also a huge success in Brazil. In Mumbai, this app is said to have used among doctors for sending real-time photographs of their patients’ ECG results (cutting through red tape). However, ‘WhatsApp’ popularity is relatively very small. There are also heavy competitions riding close behind this app (some with more novel features like self-destructing texts).
How the app founders’ single-minded focus of making it only a communication tool (without in-app services, lack of games), is going to work in the future is a big question, but, right now, ‘WhatsApp’ is the best service for ‘staying connected.’