At a recent speech delivered during the D: Dive Into Mobile conference in New York City, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum claimed that WhatsApp has exceeded Twitter’s use. In December, Twitter put that number at 200 million users. WhatsApp boasts an average of 8 billion inbound messages and 12 billion outbound messages a day, he said. For perspective, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) only handles about half that number at approximately 10 billion messages per day.
One reason for the app’s popularity is, in Koum’s opinion, the lack of advertising cluttering up WhatsApp.
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“We do have a manifesto opposing advertising. We’re proud of that. Who likes advertising?” he said.
Mr Koum continued: “We’re so bombarded with ads so much in our daily lives and we felt that smartphones aren’t the place for that. Our phones are so intimately connected to us, to our lives. Putting advertising on a device like that is a bad idea.”
“You don’t want to be interrupted by ads when you’re chatting with your loved ones. Our monetization strategy is simple. One dollar a year. If we did something besides that, it would just get in the way,” the WhatsApp CEO added. WhatsApp is slowly introducing a business model in which users pay US $0.99 a year.
While Mr. Koum was quite content with claiming more users than Twitter, he failed to give an indication of how many monthly users it had, or for that matter how many of them would be willing to pay a $1 annual fee.
Rumors ran rampant around the internet last week that WhatsApp was mere hours away from being purchased by Google for $1 billion. A rumor that Mr. Koum claims carries no weight. If WhatsApp were to be purchased by Google or others, it’s safe to say that this ad-free environment would be a thing of the past with a price tag of $1 billion.
While Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) have all delivered messaging options, Mr. Koum believes that what makes WhatsApp special is the fact that all they do is provide cross-platform messaging.
“Mobile and messaging is the only thing we do,” he said. “It’s in our heart and in our blood and DNA.”