On Monday, the 4th of October the Facebook-owned apps; Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp experienced a shutdown that lasted for up to six hours, leaving users all over the world in panic mode.
WhatsApp, a popular messaging app founded in 2009 by former Yahoo! workers; Brian Acton and Jan Koum before it was bought by Facebook, serves a variety of functions for its users.
The features that WhatsApp provides are instant messaging, voice calling, video calling, file sharing, group messaging, amongst many others.
WhatsApp is used by a whopping 2 billion people across the globe and the number is likely to grow: the app makes communication easier between you and your friends, family members, coworkers, and customers if you are an entrepreneur.
There are many reasons why people all over the globe use WhatsApp: in 2017 and 2019, WhatsApp was the most globally downloaded app with 924 and 850 million downloads respectively.
One major reason why so many people use WhatsApp is that it is free to use. All you need is a data subscription or some good Wifi. In some countries, there are WhatsApp data plans that are cheaper than a regular data subscription.
WhatsApp does not discriminate: most mobile phones can download the app. You could use WhatsApp with your Android, iPhone, Nokia, Blackberry, etc.
However, from November 1st, 2021, WhatsApp will stop working on phones running Android 4.0.3 as well as iPhones running on iOS 9 or before.
Young people love WhatsApp because it provides a fun way to chat with friends. The voice note and sticker sending features make discussions more engaging: the status sharing option is an ice cream topping. People can share their photos and videos with friends: WhatsApp provides a great user experience.
The October 4th shutdown, in which users of WhatsApp all over the globe were unable to send and receive messages for up to six hours, establishes a fact: WhatsApp is not indispensable.
Based on my observations, I will be outlining five apps that phone users are downloading as good alternatives for WhatsApp.
1. Telegram: The Telegram app is WhatsApp's strong competitor, having 500 million users in January 2021. The app allows users to send large files and create groups with more members than WhatsApp allows; hence more people are downloading the Telegram app.
2. Signal: In January 2021, there were rumors about the safety of the data of WhatsApp users, so some people migrated to Signal. The app offers a more privacy-oriented experience than WhatsApp and it is very similar in terms of the features it provides: this is why many WhatsApp users jumped ship.
3. Discord: Although it was created for gamers, Discord has evolved from an app used for gaming communities to an app used by many. In the cryptocurrency industry, Discord is often used for airdrops because it has a wider reach.
4. Viber: Viber is another WhatsApp strong competitor: it provides privacy in the sense that you can hide chats with a PIN. In addition, you can call contacts not using Viber at a small fee: this is a feature that WhatsApp lacks. You can also play interesting games and share funny stickers on Viber.
5. Threema: This messaging app from Switzerland promises user safety and delivers on that. You don't need a SIM card to use the app and it is tablet-optimized. If you want an anonymous experience in which you don't need your email address and contacts are not automatically added, Threema is the app for you.
In January 2021, WhatsApp shared an update informing users about some changes in the way the app would share the data with Facebook. Users were to accept the update or cease to use the app: there was a resultant outcry.
Users migrated to apps like Telegram and Signal because they believed that their data was no safer with WhatsApp. WhatsApp tried to control the damage, but it was too late: the app had lost the trust of its users.
WhatsApp also has its frequent updates: if you do not update your app regularly, you will not be able to access your messages. This is tiresome for many users: they switch to apps like Telegram which do not prevent you from accessing messages just because your app is outdated.
In addition, WhatsApp has more competition now than it used to have years before: many new apps provide more security and anonymity. It no longer has the "cool", " popular" effect it had with young people years ago.
I think WhatsApp is a great app that you can use to communicate with your friends and family, but it needs a better brand image. People want a brand that they can trust and I believe that in the future, maybe WhatsApp can provide that.