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WhatsApp Is Well On Its Way To A Billion Users 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-big dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "In just two months since Facebook dropped $19 billion to buy WhatsApp, the five-year-old mobile messaging app on Tuesday announced its its active user base has grown to more than half a billion people. This is not the first time that an app has seen a major pop in users after it was acquired by Facebook: When Facebook bought Instagram in April 2012, the service boasted some 30 million users. In one month after the deal, Instagram gained 20 million new users. By July, Instagram grew to 80 million active users. WhatsApp seems to be having a similar growth spurt, gaining roughly 25 million users each month since the Facebook deal was announced."
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WhatsApp Is Well On Its Way To A Billion Users

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  • What?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:02PM (#46829291) Homepage
    This looks like a "messaging" app. It seems like the only point is to get around the few remaining billing plans on the planet that don't have unlimited text messaging. Am I insane thinking that this market niche will only exist for another year, at most? I personally don't know anybody who has to pay for messaging, but I understand that some people in other countries still have to (for now)...
    • I agree - I used to be on IM with a number of my friends, but now all communication with them is via texting - SMS or FaceTime.

    • Re: What?? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by corychristison (951993) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:12PM (#46829337)

      I personally use Telegram (https://telegram.org/), and have for quite some time now. I like it for various reasons. Mainly its open source, and multi-client.

      What I /don't/ like about plain jane SMS is I can't sit back at my desk and message people back who message me. I have to completely break my submersion into my computer, pick up my phone, and type on a tiny (virtual) keyboard. Drives me absolutely insane.

      • If you're on Android you can text from your PC using Mightytext http://mightytext.net/ [mightytext.net]
      • Can't you do that any more?

        I remember my old Nokia could be controlled by a cable to read and send texts.

        • Can't you do that any more?

          I remember my old Nokia could be controlled by a cable to read and send texts.

          Unfortunately, today's phone can do that without a cable, making the process less complicated.

          • by Threni (635302)

            > Unfortunately, today's phone can do that without a cable, making the process less
            > complicated.

            That is a shame. Oh well, there are always other uses for cable fetishists, such as charging. For now, anyway.

      • by pe1rxq (141710)

        You might want to checkout QuickMSG (Disclaimer: I wrote it and this is a shameless plug). http://quickmsg.vreeken.net/ [vreeken.net]
        It is open source, decentralized, secure, and not tied to a phone number since it uses email as a transport medium.
        Right now I only have an android app and a command line version for linux (I can only do so much at a time), but the protocol is completly open. Basicly PGPmime with a messaging format on top.

    • There are plenty of people using prepaid plans which do not come with unlimited text messages.
      • by byornski (1022169)
        Literally a lie in any civilized country....
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Literally a lie in any civilized country....

          True, but that's because there really aren't any civilized countries on planet Earth

        • No prepaid plans in the UK come with unlimited texting. You can generally buy a bundle that includes it, but a bundle that provides more data than it's easy to use on a smartphone (without tethering) is generally cheaper and allows you to use email and the web as well as IM apps. I generally pay £1-2/month, and it costs as much in terms of data to have an entire day of IM connectivity as it does to send one SMS.
          • by linuxci (3530)

            No prepaid plans in the UK come with unlimited texting.

            Almost all the plans on giffgaff.com include unlimited texting. Those from £12/month include unlimited data too.

            • I switched from giffgaff when they put up their prices and engaged in misleading advertising ('look, we're cheaper than everyone else if you pick the really expensive plans that you have to dig around on their web sites to even find and ignore the ones that are the same price we were offering before we put prices up!'). I guess the difference is what you count as a plan. I regard their goody bags as an add-on, not a plan. On a pre-pay plan you don't get anything included - that's the point. Given that G
      • by DaHat (247651)

        And some post paid plans... I'm on Verizon and demand a quarter from the sender for each text message they send me.

        I can do all of the IP based messaging services I care about on my phone (and tablet, and laptop, and desktop)... so when someone reverts to SMS and costs me money (because I refuse to get a texting plan given my unlimited data plan and access to far more services via it)... I insist they reimburse me for the expense they caused.

      • I'm one of them. Back when I set up the plan, unlimited texts added ten or twenty bucks (I forget which) a month to my bill. It was and is cheaper to spend twenty cents each for the couple of dozen texts I send/receive each year.

        Not everyone with a cell phone is addicted to text messages.

    • That's what it is, and a horrendously limited, unintuitive messaging app at that. I was forced to install it by friends in Hong Kong recently while I was there, and uninstalled it the day I left. I see zero reason for it to exist, not even limited text billing plans -- you have to pay for Whatsapp too after the first year, after all.
    • by kesuki (321456)

      i am already paying $50 a month for verizon cell phone, that's a 4g lte phone with i think 1500 anytime minutes. 2gb data cap, unlimited texting costs $5 a month but i send/recieve less than $5 worth of texts a month. so no not 'everyone' has text messaging plans. my parents both have dumbphones still and they have text messages blocked to avoid unwanted charges.

      and guess what, every other carrier servicing my area basically non existant. the towers used to be owned by alltel but now are all verizon and peo

      • by rsborg (111459)

        i am already paying $50 a month for verizon cell phone, that's a 4g lte phone with i think 1500 anytime minutes. 2gb data cap, unlimited texting costs $5 a month but i send/recieve less than $5 worth of texts a month. so no not 'everyone' has text messaging plans. my parents both have dumbphones still and they have text messages blocked to avoid unwanted charges.

        and guess what, every other carrier servicing my area basically non existant. the towers used to be owned by alltel but now are all verizon and people can barely make phone calls if they aren't verizon phones.

        Where do you live so I don't ever go near that place?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You may have unlimited _domestic_ texting, but I doubt you have unlimited _international_ texting. An ever increasing number of people around the world know and interact with people who live in other countries. In my experience, this is what people use WhatsApp for. If one person in a circle of friends moves overseas, then that whole circle of friends gets WhatsApp so they can all continue to communicate seamlessly and cheaply. So, to answer your question, you are either insane or just ignorant.

    • by Mr_Silver (213637)

      It seems like the only point is to get around the few remaining billing plans on the planet that don't have unlimited text messaging.

      This comes up every single time something is posted on Slashdot about WhatsApp.

      Lots of people have packages with tonnes of text messages making them, essentially, free or very low cost - however SMS doesn't do anything beyond 1:1 communication in plain old text. So picture sharing and group chats are out.

      MMS can do that, but it's often excluded from SMS packages - so after a f

      • by DogDude (805747)
        - Very cheap almost to the point of being free.
        Text messages are already free.

        - 1:1 and group chat support.
        Already do that with regular text messages

        - Picture and content sharing.
        Already do that with regular text messages

        - No additional fees for sending worldwide.
        The only potential benefit I see

        - No additional fees when you're roaming.
        "Roaming" doesn't really happen in most of the modern world

        - Not tied to users of one operating system.
        Already do that with regular text messag
        • by Mr_Silver (213637)

          Very cheap almost to the point of being free.
          Text messages are already free.

          They may be for you, but they aren't for everyone. The USA != The World.

          - 1:1 and group chat support.
          Already do that with regular text messages

          SMS doesn't support group chat. Messages to more than one person are sent individually, there is no way for the recipients to see all the people who were messaged and therefore there is no way for them to group reply.

          - Picture and content sharing.
          Already do that with regular text

          • by Bigbutt (65939)

            Text messages aren't necessarily free in the USA either. I'm paying $20 a month because my girlfriend is on a different service (I'm on AT&T, she's on Verizon I think). My ex wife and I are both on AT&T and both use iPhones (girlfriend has an Android) so my ex and I can text for free. Back in November my girlfriend and I started dating and texting. Within a couple of weeks I received an AT&T alert indicating I'd hit $50 in text charges and I should consider going with one of the texting plans.

            So

    • Why would I pay $20 per month for unlimited messaging when I could pay $1 per year for this app?

      • by Threni (635302)

        Why use an app which you have to use your phone for, when there are those which work on tablets, desktops etc? I go abroad, I put my phone into airplane mode and use only wifi (I'm not paying £1500 per gig!).

    • This looks like a "messaging" app. It seems like the only point is to get around the few remaining billing plans on the planet that don't have unlimited text messaging

      Few billing plans ? Maybe in the USA, but in the rest of the world (including Western Europe), many people use pre-paid plans. Especially kids, who happen to be heavy users of messaging.

      And remember that "unlimited" text messaging is usually only for domestic messages : you often pay to send messages to another country, and you often pay when sending from abroad.

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      This looks like a "messaging" app. It seems like the only point is to get around the few remaining billing plans on the planet that don't have unlimited text messaging. Am I insane thinking that this market niche will only exist for another year, at most? I personally don't know anybody who has to pay for messaging, but I understand that some people in other countries still have to (for now)...

      So tell me, how do I start an SMS conversation on my laptop, continue it on my phone and then later continue it on my tablet? Please tell me a user-friendly and obvious way to do it, because I want to be able to teach it to my mom...

      This is fairly typical use case in this day and age. This is why SMS has peaked and is being replaced by other forms of texting.

    • by bhv (178640)

      Started using Whatsapp a few years ago and after 6 months I realized that group threads completely replaced Facebook for me, so I deleted my fb account. Main reason for using it over standard SMS is that it allows me to emulate SMS internationally (important for many) for free. SMS is $0.50/msg!!!

      However, my group (mostly family) recently made the switch to Telegram instead. Opensource version of the same thing.

    • by zcubed11 (984886)
      Most people I know that use Whatsapp use it for group messaging and keeping in touch with family and friends overseas. Most current SMS apps lack good group messaging functionality versus Whatsapp. And don't get me started on international text rates in the US.
    • by iampiti (1059688)
      I can't speak for other parts of the world, but here in Spain many plans don't have unlimited SMSs so these messaging apps really have a good following. In fact, most smartphone users have Whatsapp and several others.
  • Real users? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sstamps (39313) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:25PM (#46829427) Homepage

    I'm sure Farcebork brought them some more visibility than they had, but what evidence is there that even most of them are actual bona fide new users, rather than just new accounts? FB has a history of having a significant percentage of their "accounts" being little more than "likebots" to float their "pay for likes" scheme.

    (See VSauce's channel on YT for a rather telling commentary on the FB "like" scam).

    • Re:Real users? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by radarskiy (2874255) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:42AM (#46830769)

      "what evidence is there"
      The $1 per year after the first year of use.

    • I am routinely spammed by fake accounts on Facebook. It happened twice in the last week alone. So far I have never received any spam on WhatsApp, probably because they do phone verification for every user, so a spammer would need to control lots of phone numbers, which is possible but not trivial.

      Literally everyone I know uses WhatsApp. Just because it didn't take off in the USA doesn't mean these numbers are wrong. It's pretty rapidly replaced SMS as the global mobile messaging standard. Half a billion use

  • Unsurprising I'm 5 users myself.

  • 1 in 7 people on Earth uses it and I know none of them. And I know people in India
    • by danlip (737336)

      I don't know any of them either. I wonder if anyone really uses it.

    • by clovis (4684)

      1 in 7 people on Earth uses it and I know none of them. And I know people in India

      Same for me, but I also always got picked last at kickball so I'm not surprised the 6 in 7 other people don't tell me about their messaging.

    • i live in india, and i don't know anybody who does NOT use whatsapp. literally everyone uses it. every nokia phone (dumb/smart), every android, and even some local branded dumbphones have whatsapp. unlimited texting is not a thing over here. data is much, much cheaper. also, with texts you can't send pics, or audio, or video. and sms is not instant messaging. whatsapp is like fb chat, but on your phone.
      also, i been using it for 3-4 years, and they always renew my subscription for free every year. and even i

      • by aprdm (2451390)
        Exactly! Here in Brazil everyone uses it! You can make groups and send pics, audio and video for the whole group, you can't do that with SMS. Making a whataspp group of your soccer buddies to organize games is awesome :)
    • Almost everyone in South Africa I know* uses it. It is a no-brainer in terms of the cost of sms/mms here.

      *I know some people without capable phones, who would if they had a phone that could.

    • by esperto (3521901)
      This kind of software spreads by peer pressure, groups choose what they use and it can be very different from other groups, and when I say groups it can be from family members, to a whole social movement.
      Here in Brazil the great majority uses now Whatsapp, until a few years ago the ubiquitous messaging app was MSN Messenger, and when MS decided to merge it with skype people simply left in droves.
      You not knowing anyone that uses is a simple case of being in a different "bubble" as others, it is very comm
      • by tompaulco (629533)

        You not knowing anyone that uses is a simple case of being in a different "bubble" as others

        But...but... I'm only two degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon!?!

  • by nemasu (1766860)
    Half of something is just as close to 0 too, they're gonna need to try very hard to gain another 500 million users.
  • It's always fascinating to find yet another way one differs from hundreds of millions or even billions of other people.

  • Than actual active members. I've had whatsapp installed on a phone for a couple years, and haven't used it in...well, a couple years. Am I in those statistics?
    • Than actual active members. I've had whatsapp installed on a phone for a couple years, and haven't used it in...well, a couple years. Am I in those statistics?

      If you're on android, it costs USD1 a year to put whatsapp on your phone. Do you still pay for them? If no, it's unlikely that you're still counted as user

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:34AM (#46830745)

    You should just take your heads out of that hole you have it in and look at other countries of the world.
    There is a couple of things you should know:
    1. No, non unlimited SMS plans are going nowhere in many places and SMS cost so much in some countries that you may pay for your data plan by sending 100-200 SMS a month.
    2. Whatsapp has market penetration of over 90% in some countries, and many people from Latin America, many European countries (And I think Asia too, although I'm not too sure whats the scenario there, I know in India is wildly used) will tell you they don't know anyone who doesn't use whatsapp (unless they know an american). I have over 95% of my contacts in Whatsapp, and I haven't received ANY SMS in the past 3-4 years, unless it's spam or a message from the telco letting me know I have a lost call.
    3. Whatsapp is very convenient for anyone that lives abroad or has friends abroad, which is becoming an increasing trend (probably in many cases but the US too)
    4. Whatsapp is fast, many criticise how simple the app is, but this makes the app very fast, specially in low end phones and thats the reason many use it.
    5. You can form groups which is very convenient, send photos, etc which makes it much more convenient than SMS once you get used to it.

    • by franciscohs (1003004) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:47AM (#46830797)

      I may add to this, when you're traveling it usually costs ~$1/day for some megs of data roaming (5-50mb i've seen), which is more than enough to send lots of messages, while ONE roaming SMS may cost the same. Again, probably not very common in the US to travel abroad, but think about Europe how much people travel and live in any other European country other than their own and where they have most of friends/family. You'd use Whatsapp (or something similar) lots more if you had to pay roaming charges to send SMS across states in the US.

  • Facebook chatting app Is Well On Its Way To A Billion Users

    FTFY

    Time for regulators to step in. What if telco's kept their clients hostage by not letting them call clients on other networks? That would be insane. Same here.

  • I literally don't know a single person who uses WhatsApp. I have two teenage daughters who do all the snapchatting and whatnot and they didn't even know what WhatsApp even was. None of their cousins scattered around the western world and attending many different universities know what it is. So the only way that WhatsApp is able to have anything even close to 1 billion users is if it is predominant in non western countries.

    And as proof of where these kids lay on the spectrum of being leaders of technolo

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