Marketing, Technology

Whatsapp – The meteoric rise and Impact in India in 2013

Whatsapp and its rapid market capture in India

Whatsapp groups are immensely popular in India

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.

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Technology

The ‘touch’ revolution!

We have had some amazing advancements in the telecommunications/ entertainment industry. Every gadget has had one objective in common though – introducing ‘ease of use’. The iPhone took ‘ease-of-use’ to another level with its capacitive touchscreen technology. Next came the kindle and Sony e-book reader (of which I believe only Sony’s book reader has touch capabilities – For more on book readers, read this crunchgear article) The laptop makers and even biggies like Microsoft and Apple must have sensed this as a huge opportunity. This week, we have had a slew of articles – all speculating about Apple tablet, Microsoft’s tablet – Courier, even a tablet with touchscreen capabilities by HP. The question is – are touchscreen tablets the next ‘in’ thing after mobile phones and book readers? Here’s why I think the answer is Yes –

Touch has the potential to truly lower the language barrier – Today, what holds gadgets off is the interface in English. For expanding into diverse markets like India, lowering the language barrier is essential alongwith the prime factor called cost. As touchscreen gadgets penetrate the market, the ‘qwerty’ keyboard can be replaced with a hindi language keyboard. This itself promises to change lives of many who wish to use gadgets like these.

(Caution: Image below is pure speculation on techblogs as of now. There has been NO official announcement)

Note: This is simply speculation

Note: This is simply speculation right now on various tech-blogs

Touch for ease of use – Icons are possibly the easiest way of identifying with things. Every advanced phone today has one character- icon representation of features. While some phones such as Nokia N95 use buttons to browse icons, latest phones like Samsung star, Nokia N97 and IPhone 3GS are using touchscreen to scintillating effect. Today, calling my best friend is as simple as pressing my finger on his/her photo in the contacts list. That for me is great ease of use.

Why tablets are the way to go?

Even now, for work, people prefer a larger screen. Can you imagine yourself writing a full report or doing a ppt or an excel sheet on a mobile? Majority of people will still say they would like to look at a larger screen. A tablet would not only increase mobility (since these gadgets would definitely be more portable than a laptop) but also aid faster browsing.

Clearly, all major firms in this field must be working towards creating a superb interface . This is one field where one can expect a lot of advances, particularly in 2010.

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(Image credits)

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