In less than five years, WhatsApp has become one of the most-used smartphone apps — with around 450m monthly global users.
The messaging service allows users of iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone, and Nokia smartphones to exchange unlimited messages, videos, audio, and images across the world for free via the internet.
The popularity of the app has eclipsed that of the once favoured BBM instant messaging service, which for many years was limited only to BlackBerry users, because of its cross-platform appeal.
WhatsApp was launched in 2009 by two former Yahoo! employees who were determined to turn away from ad-driven technology.
As of December last year, it had just 50 employees, mostly engineers, at a time when an average 50m users were signing up each month.
In a 2012 blog post, co-founder and chief executive of WhatsApp Jan Koum said: “When we sat down to start our own thing together three years ago, we wanted to make something that wasn’t just another ad clearing house.
“We wanted to spend our time building a service people wanted to use because it worked and saved them money and made their lives better in a small way. We knew we could do what most people aim to do every day: Avoid ads.”
While instant messaging was once thought of as a teenage pastime, Ukrainian-born Koum said WhatsApp is being used by all age groups and professionals to save money and time.
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