I have been a huge fan of WhatsApp since they came out for the iPhone. WhatsApp allows me to message my friends and family that have the same App on their iPhone, Blackberry, Symbian, and Android Devices. I loved the way it lets me send pics, voice, and videos to my contacts without SMS, or MMS charges or the cumbersome file size, and cost limits associated with pics and videos. No registration is required so I managed to get my mom using it too.
However, all has not been well with WhatsApp. Messages have been slow in being pushed to my iPhone, I don?t mean a few seconds or minutes. Having tested quite a few Social networking Apps in a previous post, I accept that there is a lapse in sending and receiving messages. The ?recent? problem at WhatsApp pushes that lapse to a few hours or even to the point of losing messages.
I thought that my situation was one of the few isolated incidents until I read another post griping about this problem. I started with deleting my history, then uninstalling and reinstalling the App again. Still the problems persist intermittently.
Causes of the Problem
- A Massive User Base overloading the WhatsApp pipeline
- Increasing Group Chats to include 10 users
- A non-proportionate investment in resources (i.e. hardware) in relation to the increase in users
These constitute ?good? problems for WhatsApp, after all, which one of us won?t want the problems associated with being overly successful. However, WhatsApp does not charge by the message, which makes allocating what funds they have to increase resources a potential dicey one.
Help is on the way
Around the First Quarter of this 2011, WhatsApp received $8 million in funding from Sequoia Capital.
April 11, 2011
Mountain View-Based WhatsApp Raises $8 Million in Funding
Mountain View, Calif. — WhatsApp, the Mountain View-based operator of a service that lets owners of disparate smartphones exchange text messages, images, audio and video files, has secured $8 million in fundingfrom Sequoia Capital and others, TechCrunch reported, citing sources. Founded in 2009, WhatsApp’s cross-platform service is interoperable between iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia devices. While the company has not released any information on its user base, TechCrunch noted that the WhatsApp app for iPhone has received over 28,000 ratings on iTunes.
Source: Silicon Valley Wire
Lets all hope that they put ?some? of this money to good use by improving the infrastructure. But its never that easy is it?
Like most Messaging companies, WhatApp has to grapple with expanding their platform base (to sell more Apps across different phone platforms) and maintaining (upkeep and improve) current service performance. Charging a one-time fee and maintaining an App ?forever? does not seem feasible in the long run.
So their foray into the Android and Symbian (Nokia) markets and charging $1.99/year has been a generally good direction to go secure some form of recurring income. Let me be clear on this, like most consumers, I want free Apps, but neither at the cost of the App providers survival nor the Apps performance. So I am happy to pay a reasonable amount, ?REASONABLE? being the operative word, and 1.99 seems dandy.
I believe that inevitably, iOS devices may need to be charged somewhat of an annual fee. Some innovative ideas would be to charge for value-added features:
(1) Peg the 1.99 annual fee to users that want the ?10 participant Group Chat? feature. There?s abound to be corporate users what won?t mind this. Maybe even maintain a free 3-participant group chat.
(2) Put the ?social? feature in where people can search for others open to chat via an age, and interest database. I know what you are thinking, that this may lead to a group of sexual deviants trolling WhatsApp. But look at the WhatsApp FaceBook page and you can?t miss seeing some substantial comments from users asking to be added in. So, what?s wrong with giving these lonely folks what they want with let them ?opt-in? for an in-app social purchase for say $3.99/year?
(3) WhatsApp desktop Messenger. There has been a murmuring about the need to have a WhatsApp desktop Messenger. It is for those of us that get back to the desktop and don?t want to use the phone to chat. If this is such an issue, I am sure they won?t mind paying another $0.99/year to access their chats on their desktops (logging in thru UDID or Phone number).
WhatsApp definitely has the first mover advantage in this field (i.e. MSN and Yahoo Messenger) in which they probably hold a substantial user base. How they keep and increase this base is probably high on their minds. For me, I just want my messages sent and delivery promptly, that?s not a lot to ask for right?