Even though the tremendously popular messaging app WhatsApp more than doubled its user base since Facebook acquired the startup in Feb 2014, the messaging startup’s co-founder Jan Koum has ambitious plans. He said in a recent interview that he wants every smartphone user to use the mobile app.
“We’re nowhere near that,”
But he also added that the company hoped that they would near the “critical mass” at some point in the future. He noted that the main obstacle towards reaching that goal is the U.S. market. According to Koum, the U.S. is so challenging because people have too many options there.
When Facebook acquired the messaging app, few users in the U.S. knew about it. Nevertheless, WhatsApp was heavily used overseas. But when Facebook started promoting it in North America and elsewhere its growth was staggering. The app grew faster even than Facebook in its first days.
Facebook, in the meantime, planned to expand even more into the mobile messaging business and tried to buy Snapchat twice but failed.
Even though the business is owned by Facebook, Koum, who is also a Facebook board member, runs it independently. Koum and a fellow self-taught programmer created the messaging app seven years ago. Facebook bought the startup for $19 million.
Currently, more than $1 billion people use the app worldwide. Reportedly, WhatsApp users exchange 42 billion messages, 250 million video clips, and 1.6 billion images every single day. Plus, about 100 million voice calls are made through the mobile app on a daily basis.
Koum commented on the 100 million voice call milestone in a recent interview. WhatsApp was updated with voice-calling feature over a year ago. Koum and his team had no idea how popular the feature would become. They thought that it would have a tepid growth amid fierce competition from Microsoft’s Skype.
WhatsApp founder explained that the company decided to add the feature due to user feedback. But even thought they had started working on it in 2013, they missed a deadline in 2014 and were able to finally roll it out in 2015. Fortunately, the feature was of really good quality.
Koum explained that it took so long to launch the feature because technicians had to find ways to make it compatible with all types of platforms, networks, and devices. This is how WhatsApp supports voice calls on Apple’s iPhones, Android-powered devices, Microsoft phones, and even older versions of Nokias.
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