When the world talks of Social Networking, they talk of Facebook or twitter, but when India talks about social networking in 2013, Indians talk of Whatsapp. Facebook is still the application that the web-enabled junta use, but in terms of engagement, whatsapp has clearly beaten them all.
In fact, a lot of Mobile telecom companies are claiming Whatsapp to be the trigger why people have started using their GPRS or 3G plans. Whatsapp has become THAT utility which has started making people look at stuff like 3G seriously. While this sounds incredulous, India as a country is totally capable of actually exhibiting that behavior.
2013 could be summarised as a year of true smartphone adoption ( even commoditization in India) . With such smartphones, users are becoming aware of the utility of 3G etc. For example, my family members today ask me of 3G availability in some region of India before they leave for that place. But in this age, conventional wisdom would have placed a bet on Facebook becoming more and more dominant on mobile in India. However, that hasn’t happened. How did whatsapp actually capture mindspace in India? Here are my top three reasons why Whatsapp became so popular in India –
1. “BBM for all” – Around 24 to 30 months back, Whatsapp actually started growing due to its positioning as a cross platform messaging. At that time, BBM was immensely popular in India.
2. Made free by Android – As part of Android’s growth, Google was promoting Whatsapp as a free app on the Android ecosystem which lead to zooming adoption rates across the world, particularly India
3. Simple, ad free & Social – With the social network coming on Whatsapp, there was an inherent lock in, and now, it was further increasing due to simple usability of Whatsapp per se.
Whatsapp – the utility and impact it has caused –
1. Largest personal & enterprise social network + collaboration – A lot of teams at the workplace have an internal whatsapp and this is increasing collaboration
2. Largest Alumni networking tool – Be it your school group, college group or graduation class group- every major institution that people joined have a corresponding Whatsapp group now.
3. Always on, Always Live, easiest – You can whatsapp when travelling, listening to music or as a refresher during office hours. This wasn’t the case with Facebook as it was blocked in a lot of offices
Right from a wife telling her husband that she is safe but under the rubble after a building collapse in Africa to wishing Happy Independence Day to Indians all over India, Whatsapp has had a deep impact already & in my opinion would be the top mobile app in India by a long way.