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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Apps-Updates

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WhatsApp hits 500 million users
AFP
April 23, 2014
First Published: 13:58 IST(23/4/2014)
Last Updated: 16:13 IST(23/4/2014)

The social messaging app has added another 50 million users worldwide over the past two months.

When the news first broke that Facebook had snapped up WhatsApp for a scarcely believable $19 billion, reports stated surfacing that the social messaging app's closest rivals had started to see a huge influx of new customers. The belief was that consumers were deserting WhatsApp because of its Facebook connection.

However, it appears that the opposite is true. WhatsApp has just announced it has hit the 500 million active user mark, that's 50 million more than in February when the acquisition was announced.

Read: Facebook, WhatsApp and game theory

What's more, the fastest growth is in India, Brazil, Mexico and Russia, which suggests that the Facebook connection is positive -- the social network's fastest growth over the past 12 months has been in the same four countries.

As a result, WhatsApp now shares 700 million photos and 100 million videos every day.

Compared with other fast-emerging consumer tech markets, India is very much playing catch up when it comes to moving from feature phones to smartphones, yet, according to WhatsApp spokesperson for the India market, Neeraj Arora, the country currently has 48 million active WhatsApp users, up 8 million since February.

Read: WhatsApp with Mark Zuckerberg?

Exactly a year ago, Nokia launched the affordable Asha 210 handset in India. Developed in partnership with WhatsApp, the device, a stepping stone between a feature phone and a smartphone, offered owners a full QWERTY keyboard, but more importantly, was the first phone ever to feature a dedicated WhatsApp button and free use of the app for the life of the device and all for just $72.

At the time of the launch, Brian Acton, Co-Founder of WhatsApp, said that the decision to partner with Nokia was in order to tailor the "WhatsApp experience" to different consumers' needs and revealed that the company was attracting 200,000 new Indian consumers a week. One year later, that growth remains almost constant -- the app is still attracting over 130,000 new Indian users every seven days.

Read: WhatsApp now available on Nokia Asha platform
And while the app is still growing strongly in emerging consumer markets, in countries like the US and Japan it faces stronger competition. To continue to compete with the likes of Tango in North America and Line and Viber in South East Asia, WhatsApp is preparing to add voice calling as an integrated feature. However, the company is yet to say when the feature will be going live.

The publication of WhatsApp's latest user figures comes on the same day that the aforementioned Tango social messaging app, with 200 million users, launched its news feed feature which allows users to share tracks from Spotify and to create and distribute videos within the feed as well as via direct messages.


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