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Who's On WhatsApp, and Why?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the ok-then-you-sell-your-company-for-$16b dept.

Businesses 280

theodp writes "In announcing its $16B acquisition of WhatsApp, Facebook confessed it had very little data on WhatsApp's estimated 450 million users. Asked about the user data, Facebook CFO David Ebersman said, 'WhatsApp has good penetration across all demographics but you are not asked your age when you sign up.' Wall Street analysts concerned by Ebersman's answer won't be comforted by GeekWire reporter Taylor Soper's (non-scientific) poll of UW students, which suggested that WhatsApp may not exactly be BMOC (Big Messenger on Campus). 'I don't use it at all,' replied one UW junior. 'I've heard of it but I have so many other things I do online that it would just be another time-consuming thing. I use Facebook or texting to talk to people.' WhatsApp did fare better in a survey of Soper's Facebook network, where responders said they used WhatsApp mostly for communicating internationally and in groups. So, are you or someone you know using WhatsApp, and what's the motivation for doing so?"

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crown royal nazi giantification programs kill us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322285)

they do ALL of the damage & we pay all of their bills having faith http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=homes%20people%20towns%20washed%20out%20to%20sea&sm=3

the media mongel is our message? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322333)

news? http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=WMD%20cabals%20media&sm=3 'weather' http://www.globalresearch.ca/weather-warfare-beware-the-us-military-s-experiments-with-climatic-warfare/7561 good thing we're good (at) sports?

my daughter (4, Funny)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | about a year ago | (#46322289)

she's 16 and uses whatsapp all the time because it's cheaper than SMS. I guess they get their demographics by analysing word frequency histograms, age being inversely proportioal to LPS ("like" per sentence)

Re:my daughter (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#46322579)

Your phone company sucks. I'm in Canada, and I get unlimited messaging included in my plan. Even their cheapest plan of $20 per month includes unlimited texting, and unlimited local calls.

Re:my daughter (2)

CadentOrange (2429626) | about a year ago | (#46322673)

I'm on Three in the UK and I get charged 1p per MB. Assuming each message is 1KB in size (lolwut?) that means I get charged 1p per 1000 messages. It doesn't matter if my friends and family are spread all over the world as the charge is the same. No mobile plan comes close.

Re:my daughter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322809)

Does this include SMS to other countries?

Re:my daughter (3, Insightful)

ameen.ross (2498000) | about a year ago | (#46322637)

I find it irritating when people fall for WhatsApp's propaganda that they are a "free" SMS replacement. They're not! You need an internet connection to use it just like any other internet messaging application. Newsflash; you pay a subscription fee for internet connections. And mobile internet connections come with quotas.

Granted, if you already pay for a mobile internet connection, IM will nearly always be cheaper than SMS. But that, too, goes for any IM app.

PS: I'm waiting for Kontalk to become usable before recommending it as the alternative to WhatsApp.

Re:my daughter (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#46322835)

Given that they charge US$1 per year, and that the data usage on text is very low, I wouldn't complain much, since as the number of messages tends towards infinity, the cost per message tends towards zero. They may not be free in the pedantic way, but for all practical purposes, for a heavy user, they are as close as you're going to get.

spam or scam (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year ago | (#46322303)

The only thing I know about WhatsApp is that for a while I was getting a lot of mail that was either spam from it or from scammers pretending to be it.

Re:spam or scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322379)

The only thing I know about WhatsApp is that for a while I was getting a lot of mail that was either spam from it or from scammers pretending to be it.

same here... and that's all I care to ever know, sounds like a dumb useless app.

Re:spam or scam (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#46322567)

I use it to keep in touch with my daughters overseas - free SMS. That's all going to change now though Zuckerberg can go fuck himself.

Re:spam or scam (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#46322879)

I do the exact same thing free with what is built into the iphone. imessage is 100% free except for the data charge. Mind blowing that android has not done the same thing.

Re:spam or scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322425)

I had a lot of that too. I guess its a magnet for spammers. My whole feeling on WhatsApp is why Facebook thinks it can make this a good purchase.
Yes, they get 450 million users which I think probably 350 million are frequent users. But how many already have Facebook? Realistically Facebook could
have done this kind of App internally way cheaper. I am still wondering given the rapid changes in user preferences if WhatsApp will be popular long enough for
Facebook to consider it a wise purchase.

Last week. (2)

Clyde Machine (1851570) | about a year ago | (#46322307)

I only heard of it because of its acquisition last week, and haven't used it.

Re:Last week. (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#46322865)

Same here, but people are telling me that while it's unpopular in the US there are many countries where it's extremely popular. I guess it's the Sony MiniDisc of IM, a runaway success, but considered a failure by citizens of the most powerful country on Earth because it just didn't take off there.

In South America (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322313)

I'm a 20 year-old in a South American country. Here WhatsApp is the chatting program of choice and I'm on the following groups:
-One group for the guys on my university classroom
-One group for the close friends
-One group for friends living on different states (Dota 2 players)
-Another group for other friends

Usually young men also have groups for exchanging NSFW pics of female friends and ex-girlfriends.

WhatApp ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322323)


I Use it Internationally (4, Interesting)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | about a year ago | (#46322331)

I'm a 5-digit /. user, i.e. an old guy, but I do use WhatsApp. Only with international friends, though. Even then I tend to use Facebook messenger, but there were a few people who wanted nothing to do with Facebook, and they were actually the ones who pushed me to WhatsApp. I wonder what will happen with them now.

Re:I Use it Internationally (4, Interesting)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#46322493)

Whatsapp is(was?) brilliant internationally. I also discovered changing sim cards for an foreign one let me still whatsapp from my SA number. It gave me a cheap line of communication linked to my number which was really useful, since roaming is insanely expensive. I'll see if it breaks, but right now it has too much momentum to change easily... Too many people I know use it...

Re:I Use it Internationally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322821)

Yep. Lived in Canada past two years, and WhatsApp was the app of choice for messaging. Lot of ppl had friends and relatives overseas, and WhatsApp uses data instead of text allotments so it was easy to keep in touch. Had a Canadian SIM, but when in the States, as long as I had a data connection/WiFi, I could keep in touch. I got my family to use WhatsApp, which made them happy as it cut down on international fees and texting charges. Just moved back to the States, and still prefer it over standard text messaging. Still use it, though not as many ppl in the States know about it. Now that Facebook has acquired it, good bet that'll change.

In the Netherlands.. (5, Interesting)

ellep (1746938) | about a year ago | (#46322339)

Almost everyone I know that has a smartphone (~80% of the people I know) uses WhatsApp for messaging one-to-one and for groups.

Re:In the Netherlands.. (1)

beaker_72 (1845996) | about a year ago | (#46322441)

That's interesting - I started using it to communicate internationally with friends in the Netherlands, when they told me about it. I know virtually nobody in the UK that uses it, most people that bother at all with an app for communicating (that isn't Facebook) use Viber. I also use that but only to communicate with friends in ROI. I'm an older user user though and it could well be that the kids are all on WhatsApp or Viber or something else like that for all I know.

Re:In the Netherlands.. (2)

Erik Hensema (12898) | about a year ago | (#46322541)

I second that. Whatsapp is the number one killer app for smartphones over here. Facebook messenger has little chance of gaining any meaningful market share because of whatsapp.

Developing Countries (5, Informative)

WoKKiee (238523) | about a year ago | (#46322341)

I'm a South African and most of my friends and family use WhatsApp. In South Africa, as in many other developing countries, SMS text messages are expensive and WhatsApp is used to save costs. BlackBerries are also (still) popular here - free BBM was a main reason for its popularity. WhatsApp's cross-platform capability (iOS, Android, BB and even Symbian) makes is a very attractive option.

Please see the article below:
http://mybroadband.co.za/news/... [mybroadband.co.za]

Re:Developing Countries (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322381)

Brazilian here, same thing. One point to add: group messages are a highly popular feature.

Re:Developing Countries (2)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#46322635)

I am also a South African, and have noticed that whenever I take a number for business reasons, their status shows up in whatsapp. I end up using it for all sorts of work related stuff (send a quick picture of a panel/PLC etc). Much easier than email...

Re:Developing Countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322719)

The Netherlands are one of their greatest users, hardly a developing country in any respect. It's used because it's cheaper than SMS/texting. Since Slashdot is mainly US based, most of the comments about not using/not hearing of WhatsApp are expected since free text plans are common there and the need for a cheaper alternative is not there. In mainland Europe, prepaid cell/mobile plans (pay as you go) are still commonly used, with per SMS fees charged (around 15-20 Eurocents each by some prepaid providers). Data fees are less, hence WhatsApp can present significant savings when sending dozens of messages a day.

16 Billion for something I've never heard of (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322347)

Facebook just paid 16 Billion for software, or data whichever way you want to look at it for something I've never heard of and I am pretty sure I am supposed to be part of the target demographic for both companies. Something just doesn't seem right and it's not just that Facebook had the 16 Billion to begin with.

Nope (4, Insightful)

Warbothong (905464) | about a year ago | (#46322349)

I use email.

Re:Nope (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#46322705)

I use email.

Telegraph was good enough for my ancestors, it's good enough for me.

Might help if I actually learned Morse Code though....

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322797)

I use email.

Telegraph was good enough for my ancestors, it's good enough for me.

Might help if I actually learned Morse Code though....

Snail mail was good enough for my ancestors, it's good enough for me.

Might help if I actually learn to write and not type though....

Re:Nope (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#46322745)

count me in as one of those who does not 'get it' and still uses email.

email is pretty much instant these days. and what delay there is, gives me time to read the mail and reply to it without someone seeing me typing and backspacing, etc.

so yeah, I don't get it. I don't get IM and I don't get SMS. text email works, everyone has an email addr (not everyone has IM or wants to) and email is a single user interface I need to learn and use.

Seeking open source alternative (2)

RenHoek (101570) | about a year ago | (#46322351)

I use it, it's pretty popular in the Netherlands. However I am looking for an alternative.. But not Telegram (which seems to be picking up a lot of refuguees).

I would love something open source, so I'm going to have a look at Wazapp (a.ka. OpenWhatsapp). Anybody have any experience with it?

Re:Seeking open source alternative (1)

hnangelo (1098127) | about a year ago | (#46322457)

Why not Telegram? Just wondering.

Why not Telegram (3, Informative)

gwolf (26339) | about a year ago | (#46322679)

A friend did a quite decent analysis on Telegram's shortcomings regarding what they offer:

http://blog.tincho.org/posts/T... [tincho.org]

He points at this second article, that strongly criticizes Telegram's supposedly strong, proprietary crypto:

http://unhandledexpression.com... [unhandledexpression.com]

Re:Seeking open source alternative (1)

myspys (204685) | about a year ago | (#46322477)

If a new app (Wazapp) can't provide high res screenshots on its homepage, then it's probably not offering the best deal in town.

Re:Seeking open source alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322497)

It seems Telegram is planning to progressively open source their work.

Re:Seeking open source alternative (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about a year ago | (#46322533)

Why not Telegram, then?

Re:Seeking open source alternative (4, Informative)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#46322537)

I would love something open source, so I'm going to have a look at Wazapp (a.ka. OpenWhatsapp). Anybody have any experience with it?

You're confusing two things. OpenWhatsApp is an OSS implementation of the WA app. It uses their network, and they still get your data. The only difference is that you don't use the official app, which can have its advantages, like making sure that it doesn't misuse personal data.

Wazapp is another app, another network, and it may be open source, but that still doesn't mean that you can trust them with your data.

Re:Seeking open source alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322729)

Refugees? Now now, they are just as Dutch as you. Should have thought about those open immigration policies earlier on...

Not BMOC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322353)

I know my opinion isn't the authority on what's hot and what's not, but I had honestly never heard of WhatsApp until the acquisition made the front page of Slashdot. Most of my coworkers opine same.

What do all of these messaging services offer anyway that I don't already have with the built-in messaging app on my phone? I can already send videos, pictures, and text, and include multiple people and such, all with the built-in app. I've never felt the need to look for anything else.

Re:Not BMOC? (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year ago | (#46322547)

At it's most basic, it's used as a texting app but the text messages are sent via the data channel thus avoiding the text message charges imposed by mobile operators.

Im using it for chat and travel arranging (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322355)

Its great for comms - images, chat, multi-user. My Indonesian friends got me onto it when I was living there. Its non-cloudness is something I love. It goes only to one phone and that's it. Images can be saved to your phone, so you have a record of docs and pics, if you want.

I think its appeal is an international, simple, well-made messaging tool. It does everything you want and nothing more. No anti-features ads, etc.

Bugs include sporadic push notifications, but that is pretty minor.

Re:Im using it for chat and travel arranging (1)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#46322549)

Its great for comms - images, chat, multi-user. My Indonesian friends got me onto it when I was living there. Its non-cloudness is something I love. It goes only to one phone and that's it. Images can be saved to your phone, so you have a record of docs and pics, if you want.

Non-cloudness? Is that true? So if I send you a message while you are offline, and I go offline immediately before you get online, the message is not delivered? It will only work when both are online? I don't think so, but I haven't tested it. I'm pretty sure that WA can see all your messages. Plus they store all your contacts, so they can notify anyone who registered that is in that list.

All the time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322369)

I'm 29, male, British.

I use it primarily for it's group messaging function. For example, 1 group is comprised of all members of my sports club and we use it for general communication and organising teams etc for the weekend.

Obviously then use the photo and video messaging (not for that you dirty bugger) as it's free within my data plan.

international friends and family (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322373)

That's how my friends use it. Especially they're in/from Asian countries.

Just because it's not popular in the US, it doesn't mean it's not popular elsewhere. I hate these US-centric polls. Seriously, interviewing college campus as a sample size? And then proclaiming a big fat "no" whether it's used?

Lots of users and short of cash (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#46322375)

Not too many years ago, FB was a cash poor company with a lot of users.... the only question was how to monetize the company.

WhatsApp has recently overcome a similar dilemma, albeit with a differing strategy.

Zuck has exhibited an ability to transition from product creator to successful CEO, so it's entirely plausible he knows what he's doing here. Of course, by default, it's also plausible he doesn't.

Why NOT WhatsApp (1)

kav2k (1545689) | about a year ago | (#46322377)

I can tell you why I don't use WhatsApp.

While a competent mobile-oriented IM is a good idea in general, I intensely dislike the fact that they went with binding your account to your phone number. I juggle several SIM cards, and that's a no-no in WhatsApp's book [whatsapp.com] .

I infrequently use Kik for the same purpose as WhatsApp, especially linking its detailed message delivery status, but their recent changes to TOS and embedding a browser in-app makes me wary to continue.

Re:Why NOT WhatsApp (1)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#46322577)

I can tell you why I don't use WhatsApp.

While a competent mobile-oriented IM is a good idea in general, I intensely dislike the fact that they went with binding your account to your phone number. I juggle several SIM cards, and that's a no-no in WhatsApp's book [whatsapp.com] .

I really dislike the link to my phone number, plus them uploading my contacts. I use a different phone number for WA only. So the sim that is linked to WA is not in the phone that uses WA. Then I block the contacts from WA, but that block hasn't worked always, so they got what they wanted anyway.

Girlfriend/fiance in Singapore (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | about a year ago | (#46322383)

I don't use it for anyone else and no one else I know uses it. It is a handy app, but with Facebook acquiring it now I'm seeking alternatives. I used to use fb messenger but uninstalled it because I'm sick of being tracked and sold.

Re:Girlfriend/fiance in Singapore (2)

WoKKiee (238523) | about a year ago | (#46322447)

I assume the girlfriend and fiancée is the same person, otherwise you could get into trouble if you chat to both at once! ;-)

Re:Girlfriend/fiance in Singapore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322523)

I assume the girlfriend and fiancée is the same person, otherwise you could get into trouble if you chat to both at once! ;-)

Lets just hope that his left hand doesn't know what his right hand is doing....

Proper "group" usage (2)

gwolf (26339) | about a year ago | (#46322687)

Nothing like texting "hey beautiful! Good morning!" to your "loved ones" group at 7PM!

Here in Western Europe... (4, Informative)

lvangool (1393983) | about a year ago | (#46322399)

...lots of people aged 12-50 are using it as their main texting and groupchat app. I have friends, family and colleagues in there and everybody I know on it uses it extensively. Also, anytime there is some event (be it sports, nights out, bachelor parties, holidays) or any type of real-life group is established (roommates, classmates, families, close friends, fraternities), WhatsApp is there to facilitate. By the way, any comparison to traditional texting is ludicrous: with recorded voice, "I am here" GPS location with maps integration, multimedia sharing, etc. Just like most of its competitors, I'm sure.

Re:Here in Western Europe... (2)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#46322593)

"...lots of people aged 12-50 are using it as their main texting and groupchat app"

When you say lots presumably you mean people you know. I live in europe and I'd never even heard of it until farcebook bought it, never mind used it.

Re:Here in Western Europe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322751)

He meant lots of women, and social butterflies of either gender. Tech savvy, Slashdot types would normally steer clear unless influenced by a third party: I was introduced to it (dragged into it) by a girlfriend. Have used it to communicate with 2 girlfriends since then, each on of them using it as their preferred method of communication (this is in Western Europe). I would uninstall it but I'm too far down the well to escape now.

Re:Here in Western Europe... (1)

Buchenskjoll (762354) | about a year ago | (#46322629)

You cannot generalize for Western Europe. I bet the market penetration is proportional to the price of sending SMS in each country.

Access to international users mainly..... (2)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | about a year ago | (#46322405)

I have seen the app in the Google Play store, but since I have unlimited messaging from Verizon, felt no need to use it. The app appears to be more popular overseas than in the States due to the high charges that foreign wireless providers charge for SMS. This app allows users to avoid those charges. It looks like this is a play by FB to tap into the large international user base of this app, imo...

Re:Access to international users mainly..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322681)

Here in Spain one sent sms costs about 0.10 to 0.15 € and 0.30 € if it's a mms (there is no charge for receiving). There are some plans with unlimited sms, but they appeared only recently because of the huge popularity of whatsapp here. From my stats I have sent ~5k messages (and I'm not an very active user), so whatsapp has saved me ~500€ in ridiculous expesive sms (SMS data rate is 4x more expensive than data from the Hubble [boingboing.net] ).

It also supports a lot of things sms don't and does a lot better the ones that sms/mms do. I'm also worried about the future, I was worried before because of the (almost null) security of the protocol, but here as I said is almost an standard, it seems a very difficult task to change minds. Line tried it last year with commercials on TV, but I think they didn't manage to scrap a lot of users, and IMHO Line is a ver big and slow application to be able to compete.

Dominican Republic (4, Informative)

luiss (217284) | about a year ago | (#46322407)

Just providing my own anecdote to the conversation. Seems like the entire* country of Dominican Republic is using WhatsApp. From what I recall, BlackBerry Messenger had become the IM app of choice. People saw it as "free SMS". Everyone wanted a BlackBerry, just for the messenger app. Long after RIM had lost most of it's marketshare here in the US, it was still going strong there. Eventually though, they couldn't ignore the iPhone anymore, and WhatsApp was one of the few IM apps that worked across the phones. Now, black berry is dead, and iPhones have iMessage, but WhatApp has momentum, and much better group messaging features. I personally don't know of anyone in the US that uses WhatsApp without there having been a need to communicate which someone internationally that has it. Stop looking for users in the US. That's not where the WhatApps users are.

Re:Dominican Republic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322665)

Ya. This. Nice post.

Re:Dominican Republic (1)

WoKKiee (238523) | about a year ago | (#46322787)

+1 I wish I had mod points. Your comment is completely applicable to South Africa as well. See my post re Developing Countries.

Malaysia (2)

Plouf (957367) | about a year ago | (#46322813)

I’m a European expat working in Malaysia. I never heard of WhatsApp before getting into the country one year ago. Now I’m using it every single day. It seems the whole country gave up on SMS and using nothing but WhatsApp for everything from photo sharing to group messaging.

Answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322409)

Kids and "poor" (i.e. not western middle class) people (with a lot of overlap between the groups). Nobody in my acquaintance (30-40ish WASPs) uses it..

I'd never heard of it before the acquisition (1)

Buchenskjoll (762354) | about a year ago | (#46322411)

Most plans in Denmark have free SMS, so that's the messaging application of choice.

Privacy (2)

Andrewkov (140579) | about a year ago | (#46322415)

Someone invited me to use it a few months ago. A quick google search turned up some horror stories about security problems and privacy issues (some people reported that it downloads and spams your phone's entire contact list), so I took a pass on downloading it.

Probably right up Facebook's alley, though.. :)

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322743)

Citation for the spamming-address-book thing would be interesting.

No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322429)

Fuck Facebook.
Fuck Whatsup.

Re:No! (1)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | about a year ago | (#46322601)

Whatsup is a network monitoring tool.....WhatsAPP is the topic being discussed.....

How do they break even? (4, Insightful)

satuon (1822492) | about a year ago | (#46322433)

So will WhatsApp bring more than 16 billion in net profit throughout its lifetime?

Because that would be needed to break even on the price they paid, that, or to find someone else to pay 16B or more. At 450 million people, that would require each one of their users to pay $35 dollars for 16B dollars revenue, not profit. If their users are 7 billion instead (the entire world population), that would require $2-3 dollars from each one.

I have WhatsApp installed on my smartphone, and the only reason I use it is to NOT PAY for sending SMS messages. That's what their user-base is - people who don't want to pay. How they plan on getting more than $35 from each and every one, is beyond me.

Re:How do they break even? (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#46322491)

Don't look for logic in these sorts of aquisitions anymore - its another tech bubble getting ready to burst. Its a pity Zuckerberg couldn't have taken a leaf out of Bill Gate's book and used that 16 billion for something more productive instead of buying another flash in the pan dot.bomb

Re:How do they break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322605)

From what I read, WhatsApp's *revenue* for 2013 was $20m (dunno why it's hard to find numbers confirming/denying this). With numbers like that, they're unlikely to be making any profit at all (unless their operations are dirt cheap---but even my tiny company pays $30m for its data center space; so WhatsApp's profits are likely negative).

With that in mind, it seems they've created another Mark Cuban---someone clever enough to sell some piece of shit for $4b to a dot-com (come to think of it, it's identical cash amount!; in the coming tech crash, this acquisition really *is* a $4b (the cash-part) as the FB shares (the $12b part) will drop to pennies).

Re:How do they break even? (3, Interesting)

Zocalo (252965) | about a year ago | (#46322611)

I'm guessing FB sees it more about data mining and the ad revenue (the product) than the actual users (the raw material). If they tack an brief ad on the end of each message and charge for a premium ad-free service, then it becomes more a case of how many messages do WhatsApp users send to each each other that we can make money off. Even charging the advertiser something ridiculous like 0.01c/message, given the rate typical teens messages each other that's going to add up pretty quickly, although I doubt it's going to ever add up to $16b though - especially if they really are shedding users at the rates implied in the tech press.

Re:How do they break even? (1)

satuon (1822492) | about a year ago | (#46322833)

When did they start with the $1 fee? Has one year passed yet? I.e. are there users who have already had to stop using WhatsApp or start paying? I would be interested to see the conversion rate, how many start paying vs how many drop out.

Re:How do they break even? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#46322619)

Also, could Facebook have just built a similar service for less than $16 billion? How hard would it be for facebook to set up a system that allows you to do exactly what WhatsApp does?

Re:How do they break even? (2)

satuon (1822492) | about a year ago | (#46322875)

WhatsApp already has 450 million users, if Facebook were to roll out their own app, they would have 0 users, and would be trying to take away from an incumbent. WhatsApp didn't have to take them away from anyone, they had first-mover advantage.

Re:How do they break even? (1)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#46322785)

Once you attain a certain level of wealth, money is no longer money. It's just weight that you throw around.

Re:How do they break even? (1)

DangerousDriver (752795) | about a year ago | (#46322799)

The value is in the data they've bought - cross-referencing, validation and even more shadow profiles.

Was using it. (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a year ago | (#46322435)

I was using the groups aspect of it until it started hassling me every few hours to upgrade it... but the permissions had changed to wanting access to pretty much everything on the phone.

Uninstalled. Not missed.

A demographic survey... for free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322465)

since they don't know what they spent money for... they are asking here ????

In Italy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322473)

Everyone with Smartphone use WhatsApp. It is easy,multiplatform, and you can send image, text and audio. Now Facebook has the telephone number of all people in the world and the connection between people. It's not so bad for them.

I use WhatsApp (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#46322483)

I have a couple of cousins, one in Mumbai and another in Singapore. The Mumbai guy was very impressed and persuaded me to install WhatsApp. I could not see why I would use WhatsApp over email when I have a data plan on a smartphone. Some of my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law from India send me WhatsApp messages. They find it easy and convenient to send phots through this App. Otherwise it is as useless as it gets. I would probably pay 1$ or two for it. Not sure how many of my correspondents from India would.

"won't be comforted" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322513)

A few college students in America say they don't use it.

But so what if _all_ college students in America don't use it? College students in America are Facebook users already; they aren't why Zuckerberg bought WhatsApp.

There's a big wide world out there, theodp.

I don't know. (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#46322519)

and I don't give a darn.

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322527)

Who's on first base, Why on third.

No, who's on first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322529)

What's on second, I dunno is on third.

SImple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322551)

It's used because it uses your data connection for messages, bypassing the carrier's SMS charges. That's all there is to it.

Re:SImple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322651)

But why not use email? It also bypasses SMS and is free if you have a data plan. I just don't understand the reason to use anything else. Can anyone explain?

An IM service for 19 Billion.... (4, Insightful)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | about a year ago | (#46322569)

Am I the only person who can't understand why anyone in their right mind would pay 1 billion, (let alone 19 billion) for a company that pretty much just does IM for phones? I mean, there are a ton of instant messengers out there. Most have good phone integration. Whether this will break even for Facebook or not is a given. It wont. They may not loose their shirt, but there is no way they are going to make their 19 billion back from a company with 40 million in revenue. The math doesn't add up. Even if paying ~$40 a user was a good move for a company like FB, there is no reason people will stay on WhatsApp if they don't want to. It's not like FB where leaving can be tricky if you have a lot of content there you don't want to loose access to. You aren't going to see a mass exodus of FB, but within a matter of months, you could in WhatsApp. Having said that, the creators of WhatsApp get massive props. Creating a platform that does something that 50 other competitors have and are already doing, and then selling it for 19 billion dollars is massively impressive. With these numbers, I'm going to have to reevaluate Blackberry's stock price. Valued currently at under 5 billion, BBM has to be worth at least 10 billion by itself. Which means the stock should double in the next few days, as Google looks to acquire BBM to compete with Facebook.

hobros from hoboken money laundering scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322575)

it's more than that?

Why (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#46322581)

Who's On WhatsApp, and Why?

We are on WA because there is no open communication protocol in widespread use!
It's like everybody is sitting on a different island, where slowly people are migrating to the island with the largest population.

WA should be forced to use XMPP, the protocol that they modified such that they could lock their users in.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]

Umm, Facebook, before you signed the check... (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#46322583)

You diid text all 450M users and confirmed they all texted back, right? Right?


I don't, switched to Telegram (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about a year ago | (#46322587)

Used WhatsApp as an alternative to SMS, but security issues and acquisition by Facebook drove me off. And I didn't want to pay a subscribtion for something as trivial as an unencrypted chat.

After looking at alternatives, I made a decision to switch to Telegram, looks and feels almost exactly the same, has an open source, free and open API, desktop client, end-to-end encryption and is free. For now it is financed by Digital Fortress fund (although I would donate should the need arise).

Because it's cheap and cross platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322609)

I use it because it's cheap (uses data which I already have on my phone and not text message which I get charged per message). Also because the people I communicate with are all on different platforms (iPhone/Android/Blackberry) and It had group messaging.

Videos (1)

jetole (1242490) | about a year ago | (#46322621)

I use a few different messaging apps, more then I'd like to use to but not everyone all uses the same one so I have to be diverse. WhatsApp is the only messaging app I have, outside of text messages (MMS), that allows me to send a video directly to someone. I don't need this feature often but when I do, WhatsApp has it.

if I had to pick a favorite it would either be Hangouts or Facebook Messenger due to the fluid nature that I can roam from my phone to PC to tablet, etc, during an active conversation and still be involved with the conversation without being bound to one device or being explicitly bound to just that app.

Both Hangouts and Facebook Messenger can be used via the Pidgin application on my Linux desktop, as well as other applications and OS's, though I have recently switched to the Hangouts extension for Chrome [google.com] which auto starts when my window manager launches with a systray icron.

Cross platform (1)

angryfeet (2876521) | about a year ago | (#46322667)

People started using it because it is cross platform, when lots of people had Symbian phones, and it pulled in all your contacts from your address book, so you didn't need to manually add all your friends like some other services. Now there's no real reason to change.

SMS ? More like MMS (1)

Metatron (21064) | about a year ago | (#46322693)

Most people I know in the UK use it a cheaper replacement for MMS. Sending pictures quickly and much more cheaply with inclusive data bundles. A lot of people have unlimited SMS but MMS is still very expensive for some reason.

In Spain, everywhere (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322709)

In Spain it is used virtually by everyone -- meaning if you do not use it, you are an outlier in the plot. Basically because in Western Europe many phone companies still make you pay for SMSs et. al.

However, it is not just "texting" -- it offers audio, video, maps, etc. and it is quite fast (performance-wise). Even their image browser is *far better* than the Samsung/Android default, to be honest. It also notifies you when your message is recorded in the middle server and when it arrived on the destination *and* works reliably to some degree (e.g. compared to Hangouts).

There are some privacy concerns and some problems (at least in the past) with its encryption -- but then again, you should not use it for sensitive stuff.

So I agree with other posts -- for Western Europe it is widely used and they just got 80%+ of the mobile phone numbers there and their connections between them. Also because of the "named groups" feature, they can mine a lot of data on more connections and even assign "interests" that people are/were not faking. e.g. if you see "The XYZ club" and have 10 people in it, and that XYZ is something about clothes or a brand, you know that those people like clothing or that brand or whatever.

Simple to use, and well engineered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46322713)

There are lots of SMS replacement/chat apps available. In the past I've tried Kik, Viber and a few others. Mostly they suck. The fact is that Whatsapp feels better engineered than the others, especially on Android which often feels like a neglected platform. On my Galaxy phone, it is more responsive than the built in SMS functionality.

Add in the lack of advertisements, and you've got a winner.

Why use WhatsApp? (2)

Mr_Silver (213637) | about a year ago | (#46322801)

Lots of people have packages with tonnes of text messages making them, essentially, free or very low cost - however SMS doesn't do anything beyond 1:1 communication in plain old text. So picture sharing and group chats are out.

MMS can do that, but it's often excluded from SMS packages - so after a few messages it can start to get rather expensive. Even more so when you are sending these things to different countries.

iMessage can do that too and it's nicely integrated into iOS. If your friends aren't using iOS though then it all falls down.

So, combining these all together gets you the following wish list:

  • Very cheap almost to the point of being free.
  • 1:1 and group chat support.
  • Picture and content sharing.
  • No additional fees for sending worldwide.
  • No additional fees when you're roaming.
  • Not tied to users of one operating system.

WhatsApp (and the like) fill this gap.

In the future, I expect to see an update to WhatsApp on Android that allows it to take over as the main SMS application. That way it can work in the same way as iMessage on iOS - if you send a message and the recipient is on WhatsApp then it goes via them. If not, then it gets sent as a plain old text message.

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