Facebook owned messaging service WhatsApp will stop supporting BlackBerry devices, including the BlackBerry Priv that was launched less than 6 months back, Nokia devices running Symbian S60 and its S40 series, Windows Phone 7.1, as well as Android devices still running versions 2.1 & 2.2, by the end of this year.
According to the company, these phones and operating systems don’t offer the kind of capabilities required to expand the feature set offered by its app. It mentions that users should switch to newer Android, iPhone or Windows Phone to continue using the messenger. Interestingly, WhatsApp claims that at the time of its launch 7 years ago, 70% of the smartphones sold were either BlackBerry or Nokia Symbian phones, which at present, account for less than 1% of sold phones.
Death knell for BlackBerry OS: While phasing out the older operating systems like Symbian S60, Android 2.2 and below and Windows 7.1 makes sense, lumping BlackBerry with these, is truly sounding the death knell for BlackBerry’s OS. Note that BlackBerry still supports its OS with the latest update rolled out in January this year, while the other OS makers have long since updated or adopted different OSes from the ones phased out. However, reports from earlier this year indicate that BlackBerry itself might be looking to go Android only, as it had no new BB10 OS devices planned for 2016.
As for other users, this move should not make much of a difference. WhatsApp has played safe; it will support Android versions 2.3 and above which still account for about 10% of Android devices, while lower versions constitute of less than 1% of its users. Windows 7.1 and Symbian based phones are hardly used anymore; a Windows 7 based phone was last released in 2010, while a Symbian phone was last released in 2012.
1 billion users: Last month, WhatsApp crossed 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs). 42 billion messages were sent, along with 1.6 billion photos and 250 million videos through the platform, every day. WhatsApp also has 1 billion groups on it. In comparison, Facebook had 1.59 billion MAUs as of 31 December 2015.
Sharing info with Facebook: In January, WhatsApp said it was looking to introduce a new feature which would share WhatsApp account information with Facebook. The features are out on WhatsApp version 2.12.413 and allow users to link WhatsApp with their respective Facebook accounts. Note that Facebook had acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, where WhatsApp would get $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook stocks.