Is WhatsApp Messenger Losing The Sight Of Its Original Purpose?
WhatsApp was one of the first messaging platforms that were available across all major mobile platforms including Android, iOS, BBOS and Symbian.
WhatsApp has become the de-facto standard for messaging in India and indeed, the world. Despite many other, better(?) alternatives available, not one of them has even come close to replicating the success of WhatsApp. A few years ago, this distinction was held by BBM or the BlackBerry Messenger. It replaced text messages and was the original web-based messaging platform.
But it is now relegated to the back alleys of anonymity and the Blackberry OS is dead because it refused to evolve and keep in step with the times. WhatsApp was one of the first messaging platforms that were available across all major mobile platforms including Android, iOS, BBOS and Symbian. This was what made it so popular and widely accepted in the first place. It connected friends who used smartphones based on different platforms.
But lately, the messaging platform is evolving with new features like payments, group video calls and a dedicated WhatsApp Business app where businesses can reach out to potential customers.
Is it becoming too complicated? Has WhatsApp lost sight of its original purpose?
The Original Cross-Platform Messenger
Despite many other cross-platform options like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, BBM, Hike, WeChat and so on, WhatsApp messenger remains the most popular messaging app across the world. Consider these statistics. As of Q4 2017, WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users and these users send 60 billion messages daily. The others come nowhere close to these numbers.
WhatsApp’s founder had always maintained that WhatsApp would never have ads in the app and that it would always remain free to use. After WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook users feared that the messenger would no longer remain ad-free. So far the fears have been unfounded.
But Facebook had to monetize its $19 billion acquisition. So WhatsApp got its dedicated app for businesses to reach out to their existing and potential customers. It also acquired some new features and services on the way. Amongst them, WhatsApp Payments is supposed to revolutionise digital payments in India.
Group video calling is another feature which will further cement WhatsApp’s position as the market leader. But are all the features and additions of WhatsApp really useful for everybody?
How Much Is Too much?
WhatsApp has transformed from a simple messenger to something akin to a digital swiss army knife. With so many features on tap, new users are in the danger of being overwhelmed. Does a messenger need to have an integrated payments system?
The answer is not simple. WhatsApp has become a hotbed for spam and in-your-face advertising. Even without the other distractions, WhatsApp has emerged to be a major productivity killer. FOMO is a real thing and it is affecting productivity. Add group video calls to the mix and the productivity index goes down further.
Apparently just staying in touch with your friends and family is not enough. You have to add to your WhatsApp Status regularly and you have to wish everyone “Good Morning”. Another disturbing trend that is emerging is the spread of fake news and rumours. With its deep penetration, WhatsApp has become the perfect weapon for spreading fake news and blatant rumours. And the worst part is, a majority of people end up believing these falsities and tyranny ensues.
Is There Hope For WhatsApp Messenger?
Technically, WhatsApp has become a better app with all the advancements and new features. But it seems to have lost its original purpose of staying in touch. It has now become a tool for monetisation, unwanted advertisements and out-of-control spam.
While some will appreciate the new features and enhanced functionality, there will be some like me who wish WhatsApp would remain the medium to reach out to long-lost friends and family over long distances. But “progress” cannot be rolled back.
Do you feel that WhatsApp has evolved into a totally different entity that has lost its way? Or do you believe that it is headed in the right direction and is keeping up with times?
Do let us know your opinion in the comments below.