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Applications Devices

No more support for WhatsApp on BlackBerry

I just spent a few minutes going through some recent feeds and saw this post on the WhatsApp blog titled “WhatsApp support for mobile devices” with this notice:

So, by the end of 2016, we will be ending support for WhatsApp Messenger on the following mobile platforms:

  • BlackBerry, including BlackBerry 10
  • Nokia S40
  • Nokia Symbian S60
  • Android 2.1 and Android 2.2
  • Windows Phone 7.1

That is pretty interesting. I wonder how much this will impact already dropping BlackBerry user figures? BBM doesn’t seem to have quite as much traction as WhatsApp (not much does) and with WhatsApp support falling away for BlackBerry devices during the course of this year, I can see even more people switching away from BlackBerry devices.

I did a little digging online and, according to Wikipedia, BBM had about 190 million users in 2015. Earlier this month The Verge reported that WhatsApp had over a billion users. Facebook Messenger doesn’t seem to support BlackBerry directly either, except perhaps through a mobile Web interface?

Bottom line for BlackBerry users is that 2016 is the year to make a decision between a new device or an unsupported version of WhatsApp (if WhatsApp will continue to work?).

WhatsApp logo credit: WhatsApp

Categories
Applications Social Web

Facebook Groups as big as WhatsApp

I’m working through the announcements at Facebook f8 and one of the slides that really stands out for me is this one:

This F8 is all about the future of sharing.Facebook has gone from being one blue app on your phone a few years ago to…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Notice how Facebook Groups is as big as WhatsApp? Facebook Messenger isn’t that far behind in terms of user numbers. I didn’t realise Groups is so popular!

Categories
Devices Mobile Tech Social Web

Simplifying the crowded messaging space

The messaging space seems to be the antithesis of email. Where email works using common protocols and a variety of email applications that all support them, messaging apps rarely talk to each other and basically function in silos. The messaging space is a surprisingly tricky one to dominate but a few of the services are in the lead and I can’t help but wonder if they are about to be unsettled in the near future.

Skype announced an update to its Mac app that brings it closer to recent mobile app updates that seem to emphasise messaging more and I thought it would be interesting to find out what people use as their dominant messaging app/service. I asked people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and received some answers I wasn’t expecting.

 

The trend seems to be that messaging is a mobile thing and the preferred messaging apps are either WhatsApp or iMessage. At least based on the responses I received on Twitter and Facebook. The responses I received on LinkedIn all included Skype as an option with others including Redphone and IBM Sametime. This is hardly a scientific survey but the differences are revealing.

I thought that, perhaps, Skype is so prevalent that as Skype improves the mobile experience it could become a compelling mobile messaging option with an established desktop presence. It could even become a dominant messaging and VOIP platform that could supplant other choices but that doesn’t seem to be happening at all. Instead, people opt for a more fragmented approach with a fairly clear distinction between the mobile and desktop options (unless you have to use Viber which has desktop and mobile apps).

I put together a rough comparison of the various messaging options in a Google Sheets document and when I look at the feedback I received from people who responded, it certainly isn’t the case that the most widely supported app wins. WhatsApp’s and iMessage’s dominance don’t seem to be affected by their limited support (either across mobile/desktop in WhatsApp’s case or Mac and iOS vs all other platforms in iMessage’s case). Mobile trumps desktop and becoming the industry leader requires a lot more than cross-platform support.

Perhaps, like Twitter, becoming the preferred messaging choice requires a simpler, frictionless experience and not the apparent UX overhead that comes with more complex, cross-platform alternatives?

That said, I wonder if the dark horse in this race isn’t, perhaps, Facebook Messenger? It has pretty capable mobile apps, is accessible in your browser and integrates with Skype. Bring along Facebook’s 1.5+ billion users and you have a pretty compelling choice largely because the people you would want to keep in touch with are a download away because they already use Facebook. Facebook’s aggressive push to persuade users to download the Facebook Messenger app makes a lot more sense because if you are already sharing your life with friends and family on Facebook and have the Facebook Messenger app installed on your device, why not just use that for your messaging requirements too? Skype then becomes just another road that leads to Facebook.

For now, though, the messaging space is pretty cluttered but consolidation has to happen at some point. The bigger players are going to want to start entrenching themselves even further and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of WhatsApp-Facebook Messenger integration down the line to bring all those WhatsApp users into the broader Facebook ecosystem to create a massive, more coherent and encompassing social experience.

Categories
Business and work Social Web

Perhaps WhatsApp won't be merged with Facebook Messenger

Update (2014-02-20): Nathan makes a good point in the comments and I was also reminded of my post from about a year ago in which I considered the implications of just such an acquisition.

I was just reading the Facebook press release about its $16bn WhatsApp acquisition and noticed this quote by WhatsApp’s co-founder and CEO, Jan Koum:

WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide. We’re excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.

Notice the phrase “partner with Mark and Facebook”? I was wondering earlier whether Facebook would find a way to combine WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger but this suggests Facebook may approach this the same way it approached the Instagram acquisition – leave the service running relatively independently and integrate its frameworks (including its terms of service and privacy policy) into Facebook’s frameworks and processes.

Also, bringing 450 million people into Facebook’s broader community does’t hurt either and the $16bn price tag gives you a sense of the value WhatsApp’s 450 million users has to Facebook.