WhatsApp has been around for an entire decade now.
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Can you believe it? WhatsApp is ten years old. We’ve had this indispensable chat app in our lives for a whole decade now. To celebrate the app’s tenth anniversary, and to thank its 1.5 billion users for their loyalty, WhatsApp penned a message on its blog and uploaded a cheerful video on YouTube. In its blog post, the Facebook-owned company outlined out the major milestones it saw in its ten-year run in a simple graphic. The chat app’s most recent feature additions include stickers and group calling.
For those of you curious to learn about the app’s origins, it might interest you to know that WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, two employees who had quit Yahoo in 2007 and travelled to South America on holiday. When Koum bought an iPhone in early 2009, he realised just how much could be developed on the App Store. And so, with the help of his friend Alex Fishman, he hired Russian developer Igor Solomennikov through RentACoder.com (now Freelancer.com) to develop a messaging app that would have “statuses next to individual names of the people”. Thus began WhatsApp’s story in the world of iOS and Android smartphones.
Though the first versions of WhatsApp were horribly buggy (and nearly made Koum give up on it for good), the app gradually found stability, and in just six months, saw an active user base of 2,50,000. After the first four years, WhatsApp claimed to have nearly 200 million active users. By the time Facebook agreed to acquire WhatsApp in early 2014, the app had well over 500 million active users. By then, WhatsApp was already recognised as the world’s most popular messaging app and was all set to start making voice calls. Today, WhatsApp handles 1.5 billion active users every month, of which 200 million are reported to be from India. It’s used by students, businesses, communities, and you and me.
WhatsApp has had its fair share of troubles though. The app's prevalence in India has led to a sharp increase in the spread of fake news in the last two years. In an attempt to curb the spread, WhatsApp had limited forwarding of messages on the app to a maximum of five users last year. It has implemented the limit globally since. WhatsApp's promise of end-to-end message encryption too was questioned by many when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg was called to a Congressional hearing to discuss data misuse within the company. Despite these trust issues, WhatsApp has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2009. Here’s to the next ten years of free and secure communication.
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