The market for free text messaging apps and services is getting a bit crowded, especially with Asian players WeChat and LINE coming into the global scene. Companies are scrambling to stand out from the competition, like TextNow who just today announced their tiered budget phone plans. Another leading contender in this race is WeChat, who also revealed an addition to its services.
WhatsApp is currently the leading messaging service, according to Onavo, a company specializing in mobile market intelligence and analysis. Last June we wrote about how WhatsApp reached a record of handling a total 27 billion messages in 24 hours. WhatsApp CEO and co-founder Jan Koum revealed that the record is now 31 billion and that the service now has 300 million monthly active users worldwide. Koum also says that users share 325 million photos per day.
WhatsApp doesn’t seem content to rest in its laurels and is now taking the next logical step to its messaging agenda: voice messages. While not an innovative concept, Koum says that WhatsApp’s new feature will differentiate itself for its ease of use. All a user needs to do is push and hold to record a message and release to send it. If the user wants to cancel recording, a simple swipe to the left is all that is needed. At most, all it takes is three taps. There is also no time limit to messages and the app automatically adjusts the volume during playback depending on the distance of the phone from the user.
Unlike most companies who do staggered releases, WhatsApp will be pushing its update simultaneously to all 300 million of its users on all supported platforms. Koum hinted that the next project for WhatsApp will be more media focused. He didn’t mention anything about future business opportunities but refuses to do anything that even smells like an advertising business.