When one of the answers to an email interview is a smiley, you know it comes from the world of social networking! t2 gets the inside story from a spokesperson for WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps for mobile phones...
Was there a boost in the traffic from India in the light of the recent (pre-paid) SMS limit?
Yes, we saw some increased activity in India in the last few days. India is an important market for us and we keep making our product more accessible for the Indian users. For example, we not only work on high-end iPhone and Android phones but also work on Asha series phones launched by Nokia recently.
WhatsApp confirmed last month that it now handles 10 billion messages a day! How much of that comes from India?
We cannot talk about specific user/traffic numbers.
More and more people are using WhatsApp instead of SMS. But you deny being a threat to carriers. How do you explain that?
We believe that WhatsApp drives data for carriers and we have seen users wanting to buy data packs to be able to use WhatsApp. We have partnered with carriers in different parts of the world so that we jointly work to promote first-time data usage and more data usage among existing users.
Tell us a WhatsApp trick. Like how you can cheat and read the message without opening it!
What are some of the new features you’re looking at?
Share nearby place is already live. We introduced encryption and profile pictures recently.
Why don’t you sell ads?
From our blog: ‘We wanted to make something that wasn’t just another ad clearinghouse... No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow.... We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t). We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake… and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap to see an advertisement.’
Considering most of your users have been using WhatsApp for less than 12 months, will Indian consumers — known to love all things free — pay for the app after a year?
We have a one-time paid app model on the iPhone and a subscription model on Android, BB, Nokia and Windows platforms. If they love the app enough (which we believe they do), they will not mind paying a small amount per year. A yearly subscription costs less than a cup of coffee.
For the uninitiated: WhatsApp is a multiplatform mobile phone messaging service that uses your phone’s internet connection to chat with other WhatsApp users. According to the Financial Times, WhatsApp “has done to SMS on mobile phones what Skype did to international calling on landlines”.
NOW YOU KNOW:Double checkmark does not mean that message was read — just that it was delivered to the recipient’s device.
When it shows ‘typing’ it
means the person is typing a message to you. ‘Last seen at’ refers to the
time the contact left WhatsApp
or went offline. Yes, we know
how this has led to innumerable fights with the boyfriend but there is NO way to get rid of the timestamp. “A lot of our users love this feature and they believe it gives them a good indication of getting a reply back from a friend who has been active,” say the creators. ‘Online’ does not mean the person has read your chat — it just means that the person has WhatsApp open.
You can’t really tell if you’ve been blocked but two sureshot signs are: 1) Not being able to see the ‘last seen at’
2) Any message sent to a contact who has blocked you will always show one check mark (message sent), and never show a second check mark (message delivered).