WhatsApp Instant Messaging (IM) app was launched in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum; both former employees of Yahoo!. Since then, the app and its usage have grown in leaps and bounds. As at September 2015, the WhatsApp user base has grown up to 900 million.
WhatsApp now comes pre-loaded on new devices, most especially Android devices. There are debates in many quarters about the ‘death’ or ‘gradual decline’ in the use of conventional text message due to the emergence of WhatsApp and other IM apps. WhatsApp has successfully replicated text messages through mobile data and they are doing the same with calls.
WhatsApp Inc. was acquired by Facebook on February 19, 2014, for about $16 billion but Facebook has not done much with it in my opinion. The call feature was recently added to the app in January, 2015. WhatsApp call uses your data subscription to connect; you do not need have call airtime on your mobile phone to use WhatsApp free call. In fact, the call quality has improved drastically over time and has been embraced by many users; young people especially.
If people are ‘not using’ text messages and not buying airtime because of WhatsApp free call, what does this mean for mobile service providers? Shortfall in revenue? Yes! In April 2015, Forbes predicted that between 2012 and 2018, the telecommunications industry will lose a combined total of $386 billion because of services like WhatsApp and Skype. This development might result into service providers blocking WhatsApp free call on their servers.
If that is the case, WhatsApp free call and messaging can be used over Wi-Fi; all you have to do is to find a free or paid Wi-Fi internet access to make your calls. You can as well setup a home Wi-Fi connection or get another mobile phone with mobile hotspot connection.
Moreover, in many parts of Africa where mobile data subscription is still expensive and epileptic, Smartphone users have to switch off their mobile data connection to save data and cost. In essence, most users don’t get WhatsApp messages in real-time; replying their messages when next their mobile data connection is on or have access to free Wi-Fi connection (which in most cases is non-existent). Besides, there are also privacy concerns about WhatsApp messages’ encryption in many climes resulting to the blocking of WhatsApp services in some countries.
It is also worthy to note that Facebook recently announced a deal with Eutelsat to use the AMOS-6 satellite to provide free internet connection that will cover most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa through its internet.org initiative and the goal of providing basic internet services free of charge. This service will be launched in 2016. Should service providers block WhatsApp free call, Facebook’s internet.org should get you covered. WhatsApp can also go the Skype way, by offering discounted call vouchers for users to make their calls.