I'm astounded on how popular Whatsapp (messaging app for phones) really is:
- My wife's friend who runs a boutique went to an old market to buy cloth material for her shop - the salesman asked her to send the specific color she wants with a picture via Whatsapp. Think of an old dusty market and think of this again.
- My wife's friend who is a recent mom talks to her paediatrician via whatsapp for advice and general questions, and the doctor replies back (regardless of location).
- An uncle and aunt in US go for shopping in the big malls and send photos to each other of whether they should pick up that item or not.
- My uncle and aunt were in town and we went shopping - again, we sent photos of the T-shirts to their son in another town to ask whether he likes the shirt enough to buy it - decision done, shirt bought, no risk of a T-shirt going unused.
- Recently, there was an incident in Bangalore because of which SMSes were restricted, which is like a heart attack for teenagers, including my sister - they all downloaded Whatsapp and shifted to it in an instant. "SMS costs - be gone!" Luckily, Whatsapp was free for a day or so in the iTunes app store around the same time and my sister, who is using my old iPhone (which is still working after 4 years) and does not have a credit card, grabbed it with eager fingers and is loving it.
- 2G on mobile is finally affordable? Now that 3G is more common and has been around for a couple of years, the slower predecessor has finally become cheap enough.
- WiFi is more common now?
- BlackBerry "BB-PIN" popularized the concept of instant messaging to a new phone-using generation, but people needed something cross-platform and Whatsapp was in the right place at the right time?
- Whatsapp is available on most mobile operating systems including many older generation platforms such as Symbian, so people are not left out of the conversation.
- Why didn't people simply use GTalk? I'm guessing it's because of the "create a Google account" barrier as well as GTalk not being as feature-full?
- Talking about features - groups, photo sharing, video sharing is a natural extension that was just meant to happen, Whatsapp makes it free (as opposed to SMS/MMS)
- The details in Whatsapp are great - for example, every message has two ticks - one that says it has gone from your phone to the server, the second tick shows that it has gone from the server to the other person's phone - an in-built message delivery status as opposed to guessing whether the SMS has reached the other person
- Did I mention how useful the groups feature is? I'm keeping in touch with friends all over the world through the same - in particular, one group has people in USA, Singapore, India all in one group and having a conversation at the same time.
- So why didn't email do the same? Because people have a work email/personal email distinction whereas a phone is undoubtedly personal? Because people don't like to differentiate between a subject line and a body line (don't laugh, I did too until I realized this is actually a barrier), they just want to "chat" because people are already familiar with SMS?
What are your thoughts?