Updated Fri, Feb 21, 2014 11:09 am
To schedule an appointment, to tell somebody you're late or just to say hi people usually send text messages. But what if you don't have a cellphone? And what if you want to text someone abroad which is usually expensive. A few years ago two people came up with an idea to solve these problems. Jan Koum and Brian Acton created an app and named it "WhatsApp". Now it has about 450 million users and is adding more every day according to the company.
"I think the thing that makes WhatsApp so successful is that it took a problem and it solved it", said Hans Meyer, Assistant Journalism Professor at Ohio University. Meyer doesn't have a cellphone but a tablet and with that he also wanted to be able to text. "I needed to get information to people quickly and I don't have a cellphone. So I downloaded the app and it works great."
An impression that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg must have shared. On Wednesday Facebook announced that it had bought WhatsApp for $ 19 billion dollars. For Meyer a consistent step. "They've said publicly they want to focus on mobile", the Journalism Professor said. And WhatsAp would give them a lot of capability to do that.
But the app doesn't only integrate different messages services and allows users to text from all kinds of devices, it also makes it cheap to text internationally. Julia Rabe is an international student at Ohio University and uses WhatsApp to talk to her friends back home in Germany. "If I texted my friends back home it would cost me a lot of money. So I use WhatsApp because it's free", she explained.
WhatsApp costs 99 cents per year, the first year after the download is free. Rabe likes that the app doesn't have adds. With the deal she hopes that this won't change. "They bought it for so much money. It needs to make revenue now", Rabe expressed her concern.
According to a CNN report WhatsApp will remain an autonomous unit within Facebook with all the existing employees. The cofounder Koum would join Facebook's board of directors.