WhatsApp’s Killer App
Die Welt’s Marco Engelien brags about one of the most popular applications for smartphones in the digital section of this week’s Welt am Sonntag.
Despite reports of security flaws, the free WhatsApp application is one of the most popular for smartphones, to the point of becoming a replacement for texting. WhatsApp ranks among the most popular applications for Android smartphones and iPhones. With the app, users send each other text messages, pictures and videos via UMTS or WLAN. According to internal company figures, this happens about 20 billion times a day. During the Dive Into Mobile technology conference organized by All Things Digital, company CEO Jan Koum mentioned that WhatsApp is now bigger than Twitter, thanks to its 200 million active users.
As evidenced by the numbers, WhatsApp has long established itself as an SMS replacement for users. One reason is that the program is not only available for iPhone and Android devices, but also for Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Rumors and hoaxes about applicable fees abound. But the fact is: the Android app is available for free at Play Store while iOS users pay a one-time fee of 89 Euro cents. But it appears that there may be plans for a subscription membership for Apple devices. How much membership will cost has yet to be disclosed.
Android users are required to pay after twelve months of free service. Another year will cost 89 cents, three years are billed at the rate of 2.40 euros and five years at 3.34 euros. For that price, WhatsApp promises to never display any advertising on your screen.
WhatsApp Security Issues
There have been repeated reports of security flaws with WhatsApp. Biggest outrage: a vulnerability that allows amateur spies to follow along messages sent via a simple wireless network. Also, the password generator app for Android has proved to be unsafe. Web developer Sam Granger found out that hackers can gain access to user accounts with little effort.
A PC version in the Works?
A software developer is currently trying to develop a WhatsApp client for Windows so that users could use the service on their PC. First components of the program have already been published on Google Code. But the program is not yet fully functional.
Together with Vodafone, Telekom sends its SMS successor Joyn into the race. The service provides its users with typical instant messaging services: sending text and multimedia messages, group chats and video calls. Joyn is free until the end of the beta phase in August 2013, after which the network providers charge depending on the amount of data used. Other competitors like Facebook Messenger or Skype also provide VoIP functions enabling their users to make free phone calls.
Success breeds greed. Therefore, from time to time, there are also rumors about the possible acquisition of WhatsApp. In December 2012, as reported about TechCrunch, Facebook allegedly showed interest in a purchase of the service. A short time later, WhatsApp denied the report. Digital Trends reports that Google is now said to have come to the table. According to the rumor, the Internet giant is ready to pay a billion dollars for WhatsApp. But once again, WhatsApp denied the rumor.