WhatsApp going the way of Friendster in messaging world?

WhatsApp going the way of Friendster in messaging world?

Summary: Offering multi-device support and more features, will messaging apps like LINE and Facebook Messenger, may snatch users away from WhatsApp?

Messaging app

Last week, Facebook announced the addition private messaging functionality for its Instagram app. A direct shot at Snapchat after the company rejected Facebook's reported US$3 billion dollar offer a few weeks ago. The first thought that popped into my head upon hearing the news was...why is WhatsApp still around? 

WhatsApp was one of the first messaging apps for the iPhone. The company has built up a large amount of users, but feature-wise it has been overshadowed by numerous other apps including LINE, Facebook Messenger, and Skype.

Over time WhatsApp was released on all the smartphone platforms, but there were limitations--the app only runs on one device and it doesn't run on iPads, tablets, or desktops. It's essentially an SMS/MMS replacement for your phone. Use two phones? You can only run WhatsApp on one of them and launching it on the other causes a re-verification process to happen, de-coupling it from the previous phone.

These days, people move between devices and computers repeatedly. For me, regardless of device I'm on (laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone), it's great to have access to all my messages and the ability to use a full-sized keyboard if I'm on the appropriate device. With WhatsApp, if I'm in front of the computer I still need to pick up my phone to correspond with people messaging me.

Why are people still using it? Is it a case of, "My colleagues and friends are all on it so it's too much effort to switch?" With the hundreds of messages one gets in a day, think of the time saved by having messages route to the device you're using. This seems like a feature worth switching for.

What do you think? Will WhatsApp become the Friendster of the instant communication world or will they manage to retain the loyalty of their millions of users?

Topics: Unified Comms, Apps, Mobility, Smartphones


Howard spent 14 years in the tech industry working as a programmer, evangelist, and community manager for Microsoft. In 2009, he had lived his "dream" of middle-management long enough and opened a Japanese restaurant called Standing Sushi Bar. Trading in stock grants and software licenses for raw fish and cash, he enjoys mixing his passion for technology into the daily hustle of small business.

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  • Why are people still using WhatsApp?

    One word, Privacy ;) It doesn't cross platform to web or devices like facebook. Its shortcomings become advantages.
  • Don't use it

    Since the app scanned and uploaded my address book w/o permission, it's been deleted and banned. Don't use it, won't use it. As you say, it's past its prime and on the way out.
    • It can't work without reading your address book, it's like SMS

      Besides are you sure it uploads anything? I thought it just compared numbers.
  • HangOut: Video, Voice, Text, Multiple Devices

    I was looking for an app that allows Voice, Text, Multiple Devices to communicate with a buddy who happens to live in an area with bad phone reception. After trying severals, HangOut and Skype were the most convenient. We picked HangOut because of a lower footprint. On desktop, we can send text to HangOut users by using Pidgin on Linux and Miranda on Windows.
  • Shizup is aiming to address this pain

    This is something a lot of similar messaging apps have, and while Facebook has cross-platform support, it is not even remotely private.
    There is a new player in the arena, which is in a private beta now. I am in the alpha group, and it looks soooooo promising. You can register in www.shizup.com and they say they will open it pretty soon for official beta.
  • Whatsapp is king because it's simple and efficient.

    The author totally misses the point of the of popularity Whatsapp.

    Skype will never be the next MSN or BBM, it throws the kitchen sink at messaging. People want a simple text based solution.

    The way you don't need to mess around with usernames likes in Facebook and Skype is a major bonus too.

    I do agree being able to Whatsapp from my PC would be useful (like I can Facebook).