Following the news of WhatsApp's purchase by Facebook for $19 billion, it was clear that there would be a tremendous amount of speculation on the application's future. Would Facebook change WhatsApp to the point where the service could not be recognized? Would Facebook leave WhatsApp alone, for better or worse? As it stands, a new change is about to be made to the messaging service, one which entails voice service.
According to USA Today, WhatsApp announced the incorporation of voice calls today. It’s been said that this service will make its way to WhatsApp during the second quarter of 2014, which should be intriguing for those that have commonly utilized this app. It’s also intriguing because it’s hard to imagine whether or not this news would have had such an impact if WhatsApp did not have the social vehicle of Facebook as its relatively new home. Whatever the case may be, this news has left me optimistic about WhatsApp, though cautiously so.
The article on USA Today focused on Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, as he said that no advertising would be incorporated into the service after Facebook’s acquisition. This could prove to be a selling point for consumers. It’s understandable that businesses have to make money or else they won’t be able to continually create apps and modify them over the course of time in order to make them more functional. Of course there is such a thing as being too ad-focused and fortunately, it looks to be a non-issue in this case. My concerns, though, do not come so much from the advertising side of things but rather WhatsApp's potential from a technical standpoint.
This past Saturday evening, WhatsApp went down for a period of two hours. The Independent said that WhatsApp had to apologize to its 450 million monthly users, though the issue was fixed a little bit before 11:00 PM. This is another point that’s easy to understand; when a service like this has such a broad amount of users, of course there will be technical hiccups now and then. The fact that this outage was seen only days after the acquisition from Facebook, though, is suspect. Only time will tell if the effort is put forth by these companies in order to better WhatsApp’s stability in the long-term. With voice chat, one can only imagine that there will be – to some extent, at least – a greater level of use.
WhatsApp – as well as Facebook – will have much to prove going forward. This goes without saying for any two companies that are part of a well-publicized business transaction. Any social media agency can see that WhatsApp presents a great deal to consumers - $1 a year for its messaging service – and the addition of voice communication only helps to make the deal sweeter. Until the second quarter of the year rolls around, though, WhatsApp users and those on the outside looking in can only speculate its future.
Note: This post is a guest post from a member of our DMR Insider Community.
Image credit: Luis via flickr