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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

What is WhatsApp doing?

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging service that was launched in 2009 and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you at least heard about it. The company was bought by Facebook in 2014 and it reached 1 billion active users this year. The company also announced that it will no longer charge for its service like it used too (US$0,99 subscription). Impressed already? Don’t be.

WhatsApp has been in the market for a while and apart from free messages, voice messages and free calls, it hasn’t done much. Yes, they have tons of emojis, but that doesn’t really make anyone impressed – it’s actually a problem.

Until a few weeks ago, I had an Android phone and every time a friend that owned an iPhone sent me emojis, I wasn’t able to see a few of them, unless I download a “new release” emoji pack. Honestly, my old phone has 8GB and no space left for stupid things, do you really think I love emojis that much? No, rather not see any of them, thanks.

I’m a heavy user of WhatsApp, before you think otherwise. Living more than 18,000 kilometers away from my family and friends it is a good way to communicate. But being from Brazil it still makes sense: the country still has a huge technology gap and cell phone plans are very expensive, for these reasons it has become the nation’s preferred messaging app.

That doesn’t mean it’s the best app. People have already realized that and are slowly shifting their loyalty to other apps, but haven’t abandoned WhatsApp because “everyone” still uses it. But how long will it last if it doesn’t do, well, something? Technology is advancing, the world is changing and if WhatsApp can’t keep up with the rhythm, it will be left behind.

Actually, it’s already well behind. I am also an active (maybe addicted) WeChat user. I can check what my friends are doing in WeChat’s news feed called Moments, and like or comment on my friend’s posts, quickly becoming the only way to share your selfies. I pay for restaurants, taxis and almost everything with the WeChat Wallet. I follow my favorite brands, companies, restaurants and bars’ own subscription accounts and read the news inside the app. I even compete with my friends to see who has walked the most every day.

With WeChat, I do everything else that WhatsApp does and just about everything else. It has become an essential part of my life and an extension of my arm. I’m now forcing everyone back home to get on WeChat and leave the old-fashion-nothing-special WhatsApp behind. Even Telegram has created something special with their self-destructive messages – shame on you WhatsApp!

Apart from all that, WhatsApp also doesn’t advertise or sell anything. Really, not even stickers, like Line does, or games, nothing. What has Facebook done in the past 2 years? They increased the amount of people on a group chat from 100 to 256 and announced that will soon charge companies to conduct customer service and calls via WhatsApp.

I’m still not impressed, but let’s wait and see what WhatsApp will do to step up its game – if it will ever!

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