WhatsApp Messenger is an instant messaging app for smartphones that operates under a subscription business model. The proprietary, cross-platform app enables users of select feature phones to use the Internet to communicate. In addition to text messaging, WhatsApp can be used to send images, video, and audio media messages. Locations can also be shared through the use of integrated mapping features.
WhatsApp Inc. was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo! The company is based in Mountain View, California and employs 55 people. It is in the process of takeover after Facebook announced its acquisition of WhatsApp Inc. on February 19, 2014, for US$19 billion.
In October 2014, WhatsApp was the most globally popular messaging app with more than 600 million active users, with India alone boasting a user base of more than 70 million, followed by China’s WeChat (468 million active users), Viber (209 million active users), and Japan’s LINE (170 million active users). In January 2015 it reported surpassing 700 million users.
After months at beta stage, the application eventually launched in November 2009 exclusively on the App Store for the iPhone. In January 2010, support for BlackBerry smartphones was added, and subsequently Symbian in May 2010 and Android in August 2010. In August 2011 a beta for some Nokia Series 40 was added, being the first non-smartphone OS with official WhatsApp support. A month later support for Windows Phone was added, and then BlackBerry 10 in March 2013.
The oldest device currently capable of running WhatsApp officially is the Symbian-based Nokia N95 released in March 2007. In 2014, WhatsApp has released an update to its Android app, adding support for Android Wear smartwatches. On January 21, 2015, WhatsApp launched a web client which can be used from Google’s Chrome browser to send messages.
Competing with a number of Asian-based messaging services (like WeChat, LINE, and Viber), WhatsApp handled ten billion messages per day in August 2012, growing from two billion in April 2012, and one billion the previous October. On June 13, 2013, WhatsApp announced that they had reached their new daily record by processing 27 billion messages. According to the Financial Times, WhatsApp “has done to SMS on mobile phones what Skype did to international calling on landlines.” In April 2014, WhatsApp crossed half-a-billion user mark. As of May 2014, Whatsapp had crossed 50 million monthly active users in India, which is also its largest country by the number of monthly active users.