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5 years of Whatsapp: what has changed and where is the messaging app going

When was the last time you sent a traditional text message? If a few years have gone by, don't be surprised: Whatsapp, the real person responsible for the inexorable decline of text messages that made us fall in love with mobile phones before the advent of the Internet, shuts down 5 candles in recent days.
 Five years of glorious and honorable service can be represented …

When was the last time you sent a traditional text message? If a few years have passed don't be surprised: Whatsapp, the real responsible for the inexorable decline of the messages that made us fall in love with mobile telephony before the advent of the Internet, turns off 5 candles in these days.

(Photo: Getty images)(Photo: Getty images)

Five years of glorious and honorable service that can be represented graphically with a straight, growing line that stops abruptly to change direction in two moments. One more abrupt and important than the other, the second: that in which the co-founder Jan Koum sold to Mark Zuckerberg's lockout court and sold the entire barrack for a value of 19 billion dollars in cash and shares. An abrupt change of direction because all the working life of Koum, a US citizen of Ukrainian origin, was characterized by the motto No ads! No games! No gimmicks !. No advertising, no games, no tricks. Koum and his adventure partner and former Yahoo colleague Brian Acton have always been convinced that ads are an insult to user intelligence. And they are probably still convinced today, while the app on which more than 60 billion messages per day are still virgin sponsorships.

It's a pity that since February 2014 Whatsapp is part of one of the most focused web company on the monetization of free services through the sale of data, Facebook precisely. Just a few weeks ago the social network announced the introduction of targeted advertising based on our tastes and our browsing habits triggering the usual shower of controversy. An approach and a way of seeing and treating users completely different from that of Zuckerberg and Koum, which does not seem to worry the latter anyway. Chiss worries if David Marcus is hired by his new employer. Marcus lex Ceo of Paypal, one for which digital rhymes with money and payments and in Facebook he will take care of instant messaging. Messenger, the new Slingshot and also Whatsapp, then. For now, as mentioned, Koum was willing to do anything rather than not having to sell, and have to sell, to advertising. Ha, and this brings us to the second change of direction, even decided to change the most important fruition condition out of the blue: the one linked to gratuity.

Starting from January 2013 a (micro) annual payment to be able to continue using the Android app. Less than a pinch given by mistake to the users' finances, we are under the leuro, but a courageous move especially if we consider that the younger user does not often have a credit card, the main method to buy in app stores. The small omelette, especially for those Android users who are particularly free, have been made. Not by chance the beginning of last year was also the time when the attacks of the competition they have multiplied.

Today there are countless alternatives, with the Eastern Line and WeChat becoming more and more aggressive, and Messenger itself that makes war on it at home. Meanwhile, Whatsapp went ahead on its way and during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ??while Koum got drunk to celebrate the birthday and billionaire acquisition, announced the introduction of voice messages. Twitter, fresh indiscretion, would be testing a share button inside your app. Lantipatia for Zuck, which led to a partial exclusion of Instagram from the realm of the bluebird, not so incisive compared to the growing diffusion of Whatsapp. Rosy present and future with even brighter colors, then? Not said.

Achilles heel, Koum's turnaround aside, that new billion users of which the Web companies do nothing but talk: the users of the development economies that are starting to handle low-cost smartphones. Google announced a line during the last developer conference. Mozilla is already launched with Firefox Os and, not by chance, it does not have Whatsapp among its applications. Android One, this is the name of the new low-cost Mountain View and partner effort, gives you the chance to download it, but it is a target that hardly gets busy with credit cards, Paypal or payments through telephone credit to carry out an action which completely free with WeChat, Line, Viber or following. For Zuckerberg not a problem, indeed: Messenger is a candidate as an optimal solution. For Koum, after the billionaire acquisition hangover, it could become one. Or, perhaps, the 19 billion booze never goes away.


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