Instant Messaging has been a big part of the internet ever since the days of AOL and other similar chatrooms. These allowed users to instantly connect to other users, with IM services being the most popular applications even till date. WhatsApp is the latest iteration of the IM application, combining the simplicity of design with a high quality of service.
Being familiar with the internet in modern times would equate to being familiar with WhatsApp, seeing as it is the most downloaded application in the world. Here we will take a look at some of the most surprising facts and statistics about WhatsApp, then understand some of the negative aspects of the IM application, followed by diving into some of the coolest features of the application.
Instant messaging has come a very long way since the early days of AOL chatrooms, and Flickr messaging. The reason that instant messaging has stuck around so long is that it provides the quickest way to communicate with an individual. Just like this section is the quickest insight into WhatsApp, you’ll find on the internet!
- There are more than 29 million WhatsApp messages sent every minute.
- WhatsApp has been banned in 12 countries.
- WhatsApp now supports fingerprint locking for android.
- More than 2 billion minutes of voice and video calls are made on WhatsApp daily.
- Brain Acton and Jan Koum, the founders of WhatsApp, were ex-employees of Yahoo!
- Google offered to buy WhatsApp for 10 billion dollars before Facebook offered them nearly twice as much.
Usage Statistics and Facts
The caliber of any application can be understood by the number of people that use it and the habits of these people on the application. In this section, we will take a look at these usage statistics for WhatsApp and understand just how widespread the world most used messaging application is. Then we will look at what the future holds for the application, and how Facebook intends to change the messaging service into a one-stop application for all social and business applications.
1. New Year’s Eve is the most popular day for WhatsApp messages to be sent:
How did you wish most of your near and dear ones on New Year’s Eve this year? The chances are high that you wished them using WhatsApp’s voice or message services. According to WhatsApp’s usage statistics, more than 100 billion messages were sent on WhatsApp. Out of these, 12 billion were picture messages, and around 4 billion were video messages. UK users accounted for nearly 900 million of these messages sent in the 24 hours before midnight.
2. WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion monthly users, with the numbers climbing steadily:
WhatsApp has an extensive user base, with nearly 1.5 billion users across the world. These users are spread across 180 countries, with India having the greatest number of people using the application. However, WhatsApp has the highest market penetration in the country of Saudi Arabia, where nearly 73% of the entire adult population uses the application, with Malaysia having the second-highest market penetration, with 68% adults using is regularly.
3. WhatsApp only has 105 employees, with 50 designers and 50 engineers:
The most surprising fact about the numbers in the previous fact is that WhatsApp only has around 100 employees working at the company. Hence, the biggest messaging services on the planet a user to employee ratio of over 12.9 million to one. This is the largest ratio of users to employees in the world. Just 50 employees were working at WhatsApp when they got over 1 billion users! That is an employee to user ration of over 200 million to one! The increase in the number of people hired at the company came after Facebook acquired the company to create WhatsApp for business and other WhatsApp services.
4. WhatsApp groups can now have 256 participants at once:
WhatsApp groups are an easy way to connect to large groups of people for any purpose, sharing images, videos, and voice notes with everyone at the same time. These groups can be accessed and entered via invites, or even URLs and QR codes. However, these groups can prove to be dangerous as well, as we will see in the critiques section of this listicle.
5. WhatsApp has become a powerful force in the news business:
Owing to WhatsApp’s capacity for letting users share anything and everything from documents to URLs to videos, WhatsApp has become an amazing platform for sharing news. Unfortunately, since all this news is user-generated and shared, there is no way to verify this information, and that can lead to a lot of issues. This gets exasperated by the fact that in some countries like Malaysia, nearly 50% of all news is obtained from WhatsApp. This may be because, in countries like Turkey or Brazil, it can be perilous to express views on Facebook or other social media, hence people choose to talk in closed private groups.
6. The founder chose the name WhatsApp in a second:
Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, created the messaging service without thinking of a name before it was published. He stated that he “Created the name in about a minute,” creating a pun on the popular phrase “What’s up,” as that was the message that he sent to his co-founder Brian Acton as a way to test the service.
7. WhatsApp grew at three times the speed than the growth of Facebook:
The growth rate of WhatsApp was one of the highest in the business of applications, with the first four years showing the highest rate of growth. The rate, when measured up against other popular social media platforms, is phenomenal. WhatsApp’s rate of growth was nearly three than that of Facebook, 7.63 times more than Twitter, and eight times more than Skype’s growth rate.
8. The only two social media platforms with more user accounts than WhatsApp are Facebook and YouTube:
Social Media platforms have become very ubiquitous in today’s world, with platforms like YouTube and Facebook coming pre-installed with modern smartphones. While these platforms have been active for many years, their userbase is at the same level as WhatsApp after it’s a comparatively shorter lifetime. They are the only two platforms with a larger userbase than Facebook-owned WhatsApp. It is slightly unsettling that two of the biggest userbases in the world belong to Facebook’s services.
(Source: Business of Apps)
9. WhatsApp has been the most downloaded smartphone application for four consecutive years:
When it comes to the success of an application, the best metric to measure it by is the number of unique downloads that it gets over the period of a year. WhatsApp has been the most downloaded application over Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for the period of 2016 to 2019. The other four applications tend to be Facebook, YouTube, and Tik Tok.
(Source: Visual Capitalist)
10. The average user checks WhatsApp more than 23 times per day:
The average WhatsApp user checks their messages nearly once every single hour. This counts up to nearly 700 times a month. This is a higher engagement rate than almost any other application, with only Tik Tok coming anywhere close to the same engagement rate.
(Source: Economic Times)
11. 58% of its user’s use the application at least five times over the course of a single day:
WhatsApp has become a staple on most smartphones in the world, with 89% of people using the application on a daily basis. However, even so, more than 58% of the users use the application at least five times over the course of a single day. Even more surprisingly, 21% of these users use the application more than 12 times in a day, nearly 1.5 times per waking hour!
Now that we understand the people that use the application, it would behoove us to look at the money that these people bring in for WhatsApp. We will try to examine the trends that the business side of WhatsApp has and then look at the prediction that analysts have for its future.
12. Facebook purchased WhatsApp for 19 billion dollars:
WhatsApp became the most popular messaging service within four years of its launch in 2009. The engagement rate of the application only grew from that point on, getting higher with the countries of India and the Middle – East. Mark Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp was the only application that had a higher engagement rate than Facebook itself, so they bought it. Facebook paid out $12 billion in stock, $4 billion in cash, and another $3 billion in restricted stock units. This totals up to 19 billion dollars, making the founders of the company billionaires.
Bonus Fact: Theoretically, each employee would have gotten 350 million dollars from the sale, the highest in corporate history, but they only got a higher paying job at Facebook and around 3.5 million dollars each for the original 15 employees for the company.
13. WhatsApp’s valuation is more than the GDP of more than 80 countries, including Honduras and Jamaica!:
WhatsApp was valued at over 19 billion dollars by Facebook when it was purchased two years ago. The valuation rose higher when Facebook started to release their monetization schemes for WhatsApp. The valuation of WhatsApp currently is higher than almost 80 countries of the world. These countries include countries like Honduras, Jamaica, and Rwanda.
14. WhatsApp’s CEO keeps a note saying “No ads, No games, No gimmicks” on his desk:
WhatsApp appeal for its users comes in large part from its simplicity. It is just a messaging service, without any other bells and whistles attached to it. This is not a coincidence since the founders of WhatsApp decided from the very beginning that their application would have “No ads, No games, No gimmicks.” Brian even wrote a note to Jan saying the same, which still sits on Jan’s desk to date. Mark Zuckerberg also stated that WhatsApp would remain ad-free entirely after its Facebook acquisition.
(Source: Business Insider)
15. The amount of money spent on marketing by WhatsApp is zero:
WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion monthly users, which keep growing every single day. According to most estimates, the userbase might even grow to 2 billion by the end of 2021. These numbers are made more amazing by the fact that WhatsApp has never had a PR or a marketing department and has not spent a single dollar on marketing in its entire lifetime.
(Source: Business of Apps)
16. WhatsApp is to be used as a launchpad for Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra: Cryptocurrencies are touted as the future of the world economy and as complete hokey, depending on the person you ask. However, according to Facebook, cryptocurrencies are worth investing millions into. They’re working on creating a cryptocurrency named Libra, which is currently being managed and designed by a team of people under the leadership of PayPal’s former director. The currency, to be a stable coin, would be backed by the treasuries of various countries and would be shared among users, and also redeemed, exclusively via WhatsApp.
(Source: Financial Times)
Critiques about WhatsApp
Not all facts and statistics about WhatsApp are positive, and here we will look at the adverse facts and statistics about WhatsApp.
17. Spread of fake news and hoaxes on WhatsApp groups, especially in India:
Due to WhatsApp groups’ feature of letting messages reach up to 256 people instantly, it can be beneficial for many purposes but can lead to horrible consequences as well. These drawbacks were seen in India, where at least 18 deaths in 2018 were attributed to the spread of fake news via WhatsApp. One of the most egregious incidents was when two men, on a road trip, stopped by a village in Assam to ask for directions. They were seen asking a child for directions and were filmed doing the same. Suspicions about them being child abductors spread fast, and they were soon surrounded by a mob that beat them to death with sticks and stones.
18. Privacy concerns regarding the application caused both ts founders to leave Facebook:
Any application that is trusted by its users to send their personal details, pictures, documents, and even their location is going to have to be extremely secure and serious about user’s privacy. Since the inception of WhatsApp, its founders have maintained that their primary concern would always be the privacy of their users. However, after the takeover by Facebook, even despite reassuring its users that their privacy would continue to be the top priority, in 2019, both founders elected to leave the company due to irreconcilable differences over the application’s operation.
19. Illegal WhatsApp campaigns heavily influenced the 2018 Brazilian Elections:
Owing to WhatsApp’s ability to reach a massive number of people at the same time, it is the tool of choice for a lot of political campaigners. However, this can be considered illegal campaigning by a lot of the nation’s election commissions. Like in Brazil’s 2018 elections, when some businessmen led a smear campaign worth million on WhatsApp, which was considered by the commission as out-of-campaign support, which is illegal.
(Source: Folha de S.Paulo)
20. 43% of all NHS staff were disciplined for using WhatsApp and other consumer IM services:
NHS and other healthcare professionals are expected to maintain the utmost respect for the privacy of their patients, which can be compromised by the use of IM services, primarily WhatsApp, since it is the most commonly used IM application in the world. There have been instances when unapproved files and documents have been sent over WhatsApp to individuals, and since the application is a product delivered by a private corporation, there is no way to monitor it for the NHS officials. Nearly 43% of all NHS employees were disciplined for using WhatsApp during their office hours.
(Source: Practice Business)
21. ISIS uses WhatsApp to sell underage sex slaves and even plan attacks:
WhatsApp’s end to end encryption might not be the best form of encryption when it comes to defending privacy. It is, however, advantageous when the numbers can be changed within a few days, not allowing for any form of sustained attack. End to end encryption is instrumental in preventing leak of data for short periods of time. This makes it the tool of choice for many terrorist organizations in the world, especially ISIS. The terror outfit used the application to sell underage sex slaves, bombs, and other weapons to their buyers. They even used the application to plan several terror attacks, including the 2015 Paris attacks, the 2017 Westminster attacks, and even the 2017 Stockholm attacks. The intelligence agencies of the various countries stated that WhatsApp’s encryption algorithm is tough to crack within the short time that these organizations change their numbers.
22. Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked using a malicious file sent over WhatsApp using the Saudi Prince’s official account:
Even the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, is not immune to being hacked and having his data retrieved by malicious individuals. In January 2020, Jeff Bezos’s personal team revealed that his phone was hacked by a file sent via WhatsApp. The file was sent through the Saudi Prince’s official account and hence was trusted by Bezos. He downloaded the file, and within hours had most of his files compromised.
(Source: The Guardian)
23. WhatsApp was used to hack into the phone of multiple individuals in the Indian media and politics:
On October 30, 2019, Facebook confirmed that an Israeli organization named NSO, who created a software named Pegasus, make specifically to hack into the user’s phone via WhatsApp. The software would be shared as an innocuous-looking file, which would then enable NSO to monitor the infected phone’s usage. Ghana’s National Communication Authority stated that Pegasus could only be deployed with the express permission of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
(Source: Huffington Post)
A social interaction application lives or dies on the wealth of features that it offers to its users, and WhatsApp is no exception. It may not be the most feature-heavy application on the market, but that fact usually is touted as a positive by its fans since they appreciate the simplicity of WhatsApp. However, there still are some amazing things you can do with WhatsApp, which we will look at right now.
24. WhatsApp stores information about the amount of data that a user shares with their contacts:
If you have you ever wondered which one of your friends have you been talking to, and sharing with, then WhatsApp has your back. The mobile applications for both android and iPhone devices store the information about the amount of data that the user sends to their various contacts on WhatsApp. All the user has to do is to go to settings -> account -> storage usage. Here the user will find detailed information about the amount of data that is exchanged between contacts on WhatsApp.
25. Create calendar events directly from the WhatsApp chat:
Given the ubiquitous nature of WhatsApp in the world, it is no surprise that a lot of events, from formal meetings to a movie get together, are planned on WhatsApp messages. Hence, WhatsApp’s feature which allows users to create calendar events directly from the WhatsApp chat itself. When the user receives or sends a message with a date and time in it. The user can click on the date and time, which will bring up the default calendar application from the user’s phone and will create an event and reminder for that particular date and time, along with the text in the message as the event details.
26. Send WhatsApp messages without ever opening the application:
Once you are tired of writing messages with your fingers, you can progress onto asking your artificial assistant to send messages for you. WhatsApp is fully integrated with Siri and the Google Assistant. All the user has to do is saw “Siri/OK Google send a WhatsApp to XYZ saying that ‘Your Message.’” This will send a message to XYZ without ever opening the application.
Bonus Fact: Sending a message this way will not update the last seen of the user if that is desirable for any reason.
27. Create a private chat with yourself to save notes, images, and voice notes on WhatsApp:
A handy feature that WhatsApp gives its users is the ability to create chats with themselves. These chats are stored only on the user’s phone. These chats can be used to store any data that the user desires. Notes using texts, images, locations, even voice notes to themselves. Just go to a new message and type in your own number and create the modern iteration of a diary!
28. Hide your phone number while using WhatsApp:
Using WhatsApp entails registration on the service by providing them with your phone number. The phone number is verified by sending an OTP to the provided number, which is then entered into the application. However, here is where a user can trick WhatsApp into showing another number. Just enter an alternate number that can be accessed to obtain the OTP from. The amount that receives the OTP will show up when you send a message to anyone. However, the sim card can then be removed, and any other sim card can be put in. Voila! Your number is hidden from everyone you message on WhatsApp!
(Source: India Today)
29. Use font modifiers to change the text messages you send:
Sending messages on WhatsApp using the default Helvetica Neue font can get rather dull. Or the user might find themselves in a situation where they need to chant the style of the font to emphasize the point about anything. WhatsApp has built-in features for styling the text. These modifiers are *for bold*, ~
for strikethrough~, _for italics_, ‘’’for monospace font’’’. There is even a third-party application called ‘Bluewords’ that allows fonts other than Helvetica Neue, including bright blue and bold text.
30. Set custom tones for every individual chat or group:
If you’re tired of looking at your notification tray to check who texted you, then you can assign notification tones for every single individual contact and group. These tones will only play if the individual texts you, and the default tone will only play for chats for which sounds aren’t assigned. Chats can even be selectively muted and set to vibrate, to focus only on the essential notifications.
31. Restrict the information that someone can see about you on WhatsApp:
Putting information online can be a challenging prospect for a lot of people. This fact will delight any such socially awkward people reading this listicle because there is a natural built-in feature that WhatsApp provides, which allows users to hide any and all information about them from all users that have their numbers. All one has to do is to go to settings -> privacy -> and then change the settings for the information that the user would want to hide.
32. Send your live location to anyone you care about:
This might be one of the most commonly known features of WhatsApp, but it is a handy feature, nonetheless. By pressing the attach button, the user can decide to send their location for a limited period of time or for an indefinite period of time. This location can be live or can just be the current location. The location can be sent to an individual or a group, or even to multiple people.
33. WhatsApp supports peer to peer payments via UPI only in India:
As we have seen, WhatsApp is immensely popular in India, with nearly half a billion users exchanging messages and information on the platform. After the Indian Government’s push to move towards digital payments based on smartphones rather than traditional cash or card payments, to reduce paper and plastic wastage, WhatsApp decided to enter the payments market themselves. WhatsApp created their WhatsApp Payments plugin, which utilizes the Universal Payment Index to enable peer to peer payments directly from user’s accounts.
(Source: Times of India)
Sources and References
- Business of Apps
- Visual Capitalist
- Economic Times
- Business Insider
- Business of Apps
- Financial Times
- Folha de S.Paulo
- Practice Business
- The Guardian
- Huffington Post
- India Today
- Times of India