WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service that startled the world with its $19 billion acquisition by Facebook is the second-most popular app after Facebook. The app that cost Facebook 19 times as much as Instagram is, undoubtedly, the most popular messaging app on both Android and iOS. It’s the go-to app for its 1 billion users that love its simplicity.
Back in 2009, when Whatsapp was launched, it was the only app that used phone numbers to add users to its contacts list. It was one of the fastest ways to communicate because you didn’t have to ask your friends their email ID or username in order to add them. And, not just this ease of use, but it was also available on all platforms (including Nokia’s S40, S60 and BlackBerry too). This was one of the main reason it got popular back then.
Apart from that, it had no ads and a yearly one dollar subscription was enough to bring users in.
Yes, that’s what brought them this far. The simplicity. But, this simplicity is deteriorating day by day in my point of view. And, I want a change.
The Real Contenders
I have tried some of those unique, advanced and feature rich messaging apps out there; the real contenders that can dethrone WhatsApp from its messaging throne. They’ve lured me just enough to switch. But, I can’t. None of my friends and family use any of them. But, what if I could lure them too? I gave it a chance.
I’ve got enough evidence here of why I want to switch, why I want a change, why I want to move to the fun side. Let’s just start with a WhatsApp alternative that follows the same code of simplicity and which I think is a real contender- Telegram.
You’ve already seen us compare it with WhatsApp. We loved it. But, that was around 2 years ago. Let’s compare the present.
I’ll not get into security. Because, whichever encryption is used, there are always chances for the account to be compromised. It’s the case for any messaging service that uses phone numbers to log in.
I’d just like to mention some tiny little features that we WhatsApp users are missing out on. These features of Telegram impressed me:
- Editing and drafting messages.
- Send unlimited files. Any type of file.
- GIF support.
- Simultaneously use your account on multiple devices with same phone number.
- Bots. You can even create one.
“A messaging app with the focus on speed and security” – as written on Telegram’s Play Store page. Sure it is. But, the point here is that Telegram follows the same code of simplicity in design and usage, though it has achieved more than WhatsApp.
Recently, my friend’s instructor asked him and others to download Telegram specifically so that they could discuss on some documents. Everyone downloaded it and they liked it. They use it every time for such work and they love it. In fact, Telegram has sufficient features for business communication where the user needs to deal with documents.
It can be clearly seen that we users are missing out on many useful features. Those features I mentioned above are no gimmicks. Also, according to WhatsApp’s About page, under the section Why, they have stated as follows-
Because we want to build a better SMS alternative. Because we believe we can. Because someday very soon everybody will have a Smartphone.
Yes, it surely is a better SMS alternative. But, not the best.
The last sentence in their answer to why they built WhatsApp makes me think of its popularity in different countries. According to the data presented by SimilarWeb, WhatsApp is most popular among the developing and emerging countries.
Contenders Among Various Countries
WeChat and Line and have already enlarged their market in their countries. China’s WeChat is flourishing with a customer-service portal, a content hub for brands. Facebook’s Messenger is following its footsteps to make money. And, Japan’s Line is becoming a messaging giant in the country.
Now, let’s talk about the second largest populated country, India. Out of 1.252 Billion population, it has 462 million users online and China has over 721 million. And, over 70 million users in India are actively using WhatsApp. So, it definitely is a growing market for internet services. In fact, Facebook had tried to take over this market by imposing the Free Basics service, an attempt against net neutrality which was effectively banned by TRAI.
Well, that’s a different story but, India is definitely an emerging market to gain profits. And, I’ve found a real contender here that’s making the best use of it and that might puncture the growth of WhatsApp in India – Hike Messenger.
Founded by Kavin Mittal, son of Sunil Bharti Mittal who’s the chairman of one of the largest telecom company in India – Airtel. Hike Messenger is one of those messaging apps that is filled with gimmicks and the fun side I’m talking about. You get tons of stickers, in-app games to challenge friends and more. During the start of this year, Hike claimed to have over 100 million users, most users being under the age of 30. The youngsters were their target and they achieved it by an outstanding marketing strategy of app localization and reward based referral programs to lure users.
Apart from that, the features are equally luring. A privacy mode to hide chats, protected by a pattern lock is something that youngsters need. In case of WhatsApp, you need to lock the app itself. You can even send up to 100 free SMS’ and even more when offline, thanks to Airtel, it’s where all the funds come from. Also, one of the features I really like is the News Feed style status update. You just have to add your friends as Favorite and you’ll see their status updates in the feed, along with a notification when they change it.
Hike Messenger is the fastest growing messaging service in India. And, it’s the one I’m switching to. Though, not all of my friends and family use it, but, the majority of them do. However, WhatsApp will still be on my phone.
Here’s a Hike Advertisement mocking WhatsApp for its simplicity.
Conclusion: Change is Necessary
The tech world is emerging fast. Users want something unique and saucy that intrigues them to use the service. The above messaging services I mentioned above are definitely delivering them. The oversimplicity of WhatsApp is what’s making these new services the real contenders.
You can clearly read here in the answers to this question on Quora that users want WhatsApp to adapt features from other messaging apps. (The question’s old and some of the features are now available.) Though, there are some users out there that seek simplicity. And some that are just bound to stick to it.
WhatsApp is definitely not losing the messaging throne any soon, at least not globally. But, when it comes to a specific country like India, the future of WhatsApp will fade if it doesn’t adapt. Bringing in new and exciting features will only help WhatsApp keep its reign in the messaging world.
Last updated on 03 February, 2022
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