With Facebook’s $19 million February purchase of WhatsApp, usage of the already then-popular messaging service has increased substantially over the past two months, just recently topping 500 million users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently called the app “incredibly valuable,” saying that it is well on its way to a billion users. Reports also indicate that WhatsApp is especially popular in other countries outside the United States, and its user base is growing the most in countries such as India (the country which houses the majority of its users), Brazil, Russia, and Mexico. In addition, the app has picked up in some countries in Europe, but it is gradually beginning to gain popularity in the United States as well. Needless to say, Facebook’s well-publicized $19 million purchase of the messaging service back in February did not hurt any with spreading the word about it. So now that Facebook has made its big purchase, what is next for WhatsApp?
It looks like the app may be well on its way to becoming the new texting, and it makes perfect sense why it would. WhatApp has essentially free SMS that runs off the internet instead of costing money on a phone plan. Additionally, compared to regular texting, the app also has enhanced photo and audio sharing options, a way to customize backgrounds with a favorite photo, and status updates and profile photo options. That being said, its advantages over normal texting are numerous, and it is no wonder it is the preferred method of communication for many young people at this point in time, adding about a million users each day since Facebook acquired it back in February.
Additionally, Twitter, one of the most popular social media sites, has been paling in comparison to WhatsApp, with the site only reaching 241 million users by the end of last year, 44 percent of whom had never even sent a tweet. In comparison, WhatsApp users are quite active on the app, and are currently sharing 700 million photos and 100 million videos each day.
Many WhatsApp users were skeptical about what would be next for the messaging service when Facebook purchased it a couple months ago, wondering if Facebook would make the kinds of unpopular changes to it that they are famous for on their own social media site. However, Facebook promised users that, much like the photo capturing app, Instagram, which Facebook also purchased a couple years back, that the app would stay separate from Facebook. That being said, WhatsApp’s association with Facebook has definitely not hurt the app, if anything it has given it far more publicity, and now has it on its way to a billion users.
In terms of what is next for the messaging service, WhatsApp is looking next to add phone calls to the vast list of services that it already offers its users, including texting, photo and video sharing, voice messaging, and customized backgrounds, statuses, and profile pictures. With all this going for WhatsApp, its easy to see why it might be on its way to a billion users already.
By Laura Clark