WhatsApp's embarrassing WhatsDown moment

Summary:How do you prove yourself when you're a chat company that's little known outside the tech world and Facebook has just acquired you for $19 billion? You allow your system to crash for two hours!

 
Oops PRwatchDotOrg.jpg
WhatsApp users would have been lucky to even see this on Saturday.
Let's say that not long ago you were an unknown company in a business that most people have still never even heard of. Maybe the "chat app" business. Kind of like WhatsApp. You have the world scratching its head after Facebook acquires you and your mere 55 employees for a king's ransom. What do you do to prove that you were worth all 19 billion dollars that Zuckerberg & Co. threw your way? 

You allow your system to crash for two hours, of course!

That's what happened to WhatsApp on Saturday, when its servers buckled a couple days after the Facebook largess, and it had to deny service to any of its supposedly 450 million users who tried to use it, The Independent reported.

In case you're still catching on: "Chat apps" are  apps (I'll assume you know what those are by now) that allow smartphone users to tap messages to each other and, depending on the app, can support various multimedia functions including photos, videos, voice calls and group discussions, The Next Web explained

As I wrote last spring, chat apps have overtaken text messaging in popularity. Not only can they do more than a text message can, they also avoid text messaging fees, although they are not necessarily free. WhatsApp charges nothing for the first year and then a nominal 99 cents annual fee, Bloomberg noted in a story today from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp is worth more than the $19 billion than his company paid for it.

In Zuckerberg's view, WhatsApp helps his social media sensation grow because it picks up Facebook's presence in the mobile world - on phones and tables as opposed to on more traditional computers - at a time when overall user growth at Facebook is slowing. The company now claims to have over a billion users, which would be a staggering one-seventh of the planet's population.

“Already almost half-a-billion people love using WhatsApp for messaging and it’s the most engaging app we’ve ever seen exist on mobile by far," Zuckerberg said in Barcelona.

When people can use it, that is.

Image is from PRWatch.org

More on what's up with WhatsApp:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter.

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