How WhatsApp conquers mobile market?

Marina Astapchik
IT Trends Research Specialist
August 8, 2014

There is no need to explain to anybody what the app WhatsApp is. One of the most successful and profitable mobile instant-messaging platforms has been sold to the world's largest social network Facebook for 16 billion dollars plus 3 billion dollars for its founders and not-numerous staff recently. But the success of the app came at a price.

Its founder, a 37-year old Jan Koum, made his way from rags to riches. According to Forbes, nowadays he is worth 6.8 billion because he owns 45 per cent of WhatsApp. But originally Jan is from a small village outside Kiev, Ukraine. He was born into a family of a housewife and a construction manager. Mass media keep telling about his difficult childhood when there was no hot water in his house and when he couldn't call because the phones were tapped by the state. Because of such unstable political and economic situation in the country Jan and his mother immigrated to the Mountain View when the boy was 16. So as to make both ends meet his mother babysat while her teenage son swept the floor in a grocery store. At the age of 18 he became interested in computer networking and started reading manuals on this topic that he bought in a used bookstore.

He entered San Jose University but in 1997 he met Brain Acton who convinced Jan to work with him for Yahoo. Consequently Koum gave up his studies. In 2007 they both left Yahoo. For a year they travelled around South America.

Jan and his partner Brian know not through hearsay what the real failure and rejection is. The thing is that both Jan and Brian applied to Facebook but were turned down. 2 months before that Brian also was rejected by Twitter.

That exact year it dawned upon Jan that it would be a good idea to create a simple messaging app. According to his first intention, this app should have shown whether it was convenient for a person to receive the call. The first release took place in May 2009 but it was just a feeble attempt to conquer the market. The real success was scored a month later, in June, when push notifications were introduced by Apple. Jan updated his soon-to-become messaging phenomena so that every time a person changed the status, it would ping everyone in his network.

BlackBerry users could already take advantage of free text messaging but it was Jan and Brian's project to cover all the people who use Smartphones. Also WhatsApp was unique because people didn't have to memorize their passwords and logins anymore. The login was simply their phone number while the password wasn't needed at all. The founders also don't carry advertising. They developed a strong dislike to advertisement when they were employees in Yahoo. Now they claim that there is nothing more intimate than communicating with the friends and relatives and are sure that distracting them with advertising is wrong. All these advantages made it possible for WhatsApp to reach the top 20 free apps and remain there ever since.

According to the world latest tendency mobile market requires simple ideas that greatly facilitate and simplify users' daily routine. At the same time, together with the simplicity of its usage, a mobile application with perfect functionality and clear usability should be developed by experts to become really great. Every day millions of good new applications appear and are expected to be the first on the market. However, in reality the first can become only the application that was developed by professional developers who know all technical tricks to make the application perfect.

Elinext Group mobile projects:

5M5 sms and mms messenger

Industries and Technology Areas:

Industries: telecommunications

Technology Areas: mobile messaging apps, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype


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