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WhatsApp clocks up a billion monthly users

WhatsApp is the brainchild of programmer Brian Acton and computer engineer Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo, who left the company in 2005, after which the pair travelled South America, simply to get away from work and no doubt dream up new internet based ideas.

It was not long before Koum came up with the idea of WhatsApp, this uses the smartphone’s Internet connection (4G/3G/2G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, as available) to send and receive messages to your friends and family. After a round of “teething” problems the messaging service really took off and success followed success until finally the company was bought out by Facebook in 2014 for $19billion. In addition to basic messaging WhatsApp users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages.

Now Facebook is reporting that WhatsApp is now used by a billion people every month and is out performing its own messenger service which has 800 million monthly users. Breaking the figures down, Facebook said that 42 billion messages and 250 million videos were sent over WhatsApp daily, but in some areas it trails behind some other locally based competition, particularly in China, Japan and South Korea, but internationally it is the most successful.

Originally WhatsApp was a fee based messaging service, but this is now entirely free, unlike many other apps which have focused on monetisation, games and stickers. Jack Kent, who is mobile analyst at IHS, remarked that WhatsApp generates data which Facebook could use to improve its targeted advertising, the core business of the social network.

It cannot be said that Facebook’s own messaging service was unsuccessful, far from it; Facebook was concerned though that a competitor might acquire WhatsApp, losing millions of motivated and highly engaged users of mobiles to a rival company. $19bn or £11.4bn saw to it that it was not going to happen.

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