Why Whatsapp Is The Leading Messaging App

Many people have wondered how Whatsapp has become so immensely popular. Looking at the development and history of the messaging app, the following points are the main reasons for Whatsapp’s success:

Reliability

There were other messaging apps before Whatsapp, but the Silicon Valley based service was the first with a reliable app: Not loosing messages, always assuring that push notifications arrive, an app that doesn’t often crash, etc. Its early competitors struggled with these challenges, while Whatsapp delivered a performant and stable service. With 15-20 billion messages being delivered per day, this is actually quite an achievement. In consequence the customer satisfaction has been high.

Cross-platform availability

Having started with the iPhone, Whatsapp quickly launched its app on other platforms. Blackberry was second, and then quickly came Android, Nokia (with Symbian 60 and even 40), Windows Phone, etc. The platform reach gave Whatsapp a considerable advantage over its competitors, and the resulting network effects among its users helped to accelerate the growth.

Easily connecting users

Since Whatsapp accesses the user’s address book to automatically connect friends, the whole setup of the service has become very easy for users. Traditionally on other services, users had to manually find and connect friends (e.g. Skype, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.). Needless to say, many people don’t like that their address book is copied to the servers of a company. However, the benefits of the automatical synchronization and the resulting ease of use beat possible privacy concerns. Again the results have been strong network effects and growth.

Fast messaging

Whatsapp made it really easy to send many messages in a row. To a certain degree Whatsapp even changed the messaging behavior of users a bit. Before users wrote several sentences and then sent one complete SMS message. Now they simply press “Send” for every sentence. For teens who send hundreds of messages per day, this has been perfect.

If Whatsapp is able to keep its lead, remains to be seen. Many competitors have catched up, and there are certain use cases where users demand advanced features, because the app is not good enough anymore. However, so far Whatsapp is a great success story with 430 million users.

Facebook Home offers persistent messaging with Chat Heads

Last weeks messaging news was definitely the announcement of Facebook Home with its Chat Heads feature. It allows you to instant message with friends, regardless of what app you are already in on your Android phone at any point.

Avatars for quick access to chats

So if you are e.g. browsing the web or playing a game, and are receiving a message from a friend, an avatar will appear on the screen with your friend’s Facebook profile picture. By tapping on it, a messaging window will open, that allows users to chat like in other standard texting or messaging apps.

Facebook Home with Chat Heads Messaging

Facebook Home with Chat Heads Messaging

The advantage from Facebook’s point of view is that you don’t have to switch between apps, and go back to what you have been doing before immediately. So for ongoing conversations this messaging feature provides fast access.┬áThe downside of the messaging feature of Facebook Home is, that some users will perceive it as quite intrusive, and won’t let them focus on what they are currently doing.

Privacy and data protection at risk

Besides, with installing “Home” on your Android device you will provide Facebook with even more information for targeting its ads. Facebook will probably not hesitate to collect any information they might redeem necessary for the growth of their business. For users worried about privacy and data protection, Chat Heads is probably not the right messaging app.

Looking at the notification systems of iPhone and Android, which already work quite similar on many devices, we expect standard features and messaging apps like Chat Heads pre-installed by the device makers (e.g. Apple, Samsung, etc.).

Why Instant Messaging Apps Are Replacing Classical Texting

With trillions of SMS messages sent every year, texting has been the standard way to exchange messages with friends and family on mobile phones for the last 20 years. However, currently “texting” as the messaging market leader is being disrupted and under strong attack by instant messaging apps. Many smartphone users are currently switching from classical text/SMS messages to newer instant messaging apps. The reasons for this replacement are pretty obvious:

Cheaper

Instant messaging apps use the data network of your smartphone to send messages cost-free via the internet. All you need is a data network for internet surfing, which most users have included already in their mobile network operator tariff or have available via public or private WiFi networks.

Thus sending messages with instant messaging apps is completely free of charge. For teenagers and young adults, who often send 100 messages per day, and previously had to pay $0,05-0,20 per message, this means huge savings.

Better

Instant messaging apps nowadays work the same way as texting (users receive a push notification on their smartphone for new messages), but offer users far more functionality.

While classical texting allows users to send simple text messages, exchanging photos is often not without difficulties. Instant messaging apps on the other hand allow users to easily exchange all kind of digital contents with friends: Photos, videos, links, locations and voice messages are pretty much the standard among some of the better services (e.g. Whatsapp, Kik Messenger, ChatOn, KakaoTalk, TextMe, MiTalk). Some even allow you to send dates from your calendar, simple drawings, locations from comprehensive data bases, multiple photos at once, etc.

Some instant messaging apps even have great group messaging capabilities. Users are able to easily set up group chats with family or friends. These can be used to plan and coordinate activities of groups or privately share digital content (e.g. Grouptime).

Besides instant messaging apps show users, if their messages were received and if recipients are online.

More innovative

Instant messaging apps innovate in very short cycles. The competition is hard, and thus service providers regularly improve their apps and launch new features. This is obviously a change from the texting world, where the lack of competition hardly forced the mobile network operators to innovate at all in 20 years time.