What’s Up With Facebook’s ‘WhatsApp’ & Why All the Fuss? Here’s the 411

Jenny Erikson Tech Talk

So something called WhatsApp has been blowing up in my tweet stream. What the heck is everyone talking about? It’s all over my news feeds too. It seems that Facebook acquired WhatsApp on Wednesday, for something like eleventy bajillion dollars, because hey, it’s Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, and he likes to spend money.

Actually, Facebook paid 19 billion for WhatsApp (yes that’s billion with a B), which is quite a bit for an app that most of us haven’t even heard of before. I remember when Facebook bought Instagram for a measly one billion dollars, and I’d been Instagramming with my friends for a while before that.

So what’s up with this WhatsApp thing? Would you believe me if I told you that 450 million people already use it? Or that 19 billion messages are sent each and every day via WhatsApp? Huh? How has a social media tool with that much traction gone unnoticed by a social media junkie such as myself?

Probably because I live in the states. The majority of WhatsApp users reside in India, Latin America, and Europe. Silly self-involved Americans.

Anyway. Enough about statistics, let’s talk about what it does.

WhatsApp is a virtually free messaging service that works with iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia, and Windows phones. You can text, voice message, group chat, share pics and vids, and share your location with friends. Basically, you can do anything but have a regular phone conversation.

It works anywhere in the world provided you can find wifi or a 3G, 4G, or LTE signal.

Did I mention it’s virtually free? You get your first year’s service free, and then it’s only $0.99 a year for a subscription after that. There are no ads. It’s easy to use. It automatically goes through your contacts, and adds your peeps using WhatsApp to your favorites list within the app.

And with this Facebook deal, it looks like it’s about to go mainstream in America.

Do you use WhatsApp?


Image via Abul Hussain/Flickr

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