WhatsApp Hits One Billion Users, Remains In Search Of Revenue

You know what’s cooler than a (several hundred) million users? A billion users.

Just over a week after announcing the scrapping of the Facebook-owned messaging service’s $0.99 annual fee, WhatsApp announced today that the product now has 1 billion users. The timing of the WhatsApp news may have been calculated: it comes on the same day that Google announced 1 billion users of Gmail. While Google has floundered on social networking services it’s shown to have a deft hand at growing a communication network in the form of email, making it Google’s most viable competitor against messaging apps at the moment.

The milestone was announced on WhatsApp’s official blog today. This means that WhatsApp acquired around 100 million users between now and September 2015, when the company reported to have 900 million active users.

According to a profile in WIRED Magazine last week, though, the WhatsApp featured 990 million users at that time. Adding 10 million users between late last month and today – in under two weeks – is indeed impressive, and it will be interesting to see if the company can keep up this pace as their user base grows bigger and bigger.

Despite these impressive user numbers, WhatsApp’s capability to generate revenue is once again in question after the company scrapped the $0.99 fee, which at the time of the company’s acquisition by Menlo Park-based Facebook, Inc. totaled $10.2 million annually, according to Bloomberg.

While revenue still remains an open question, it will be interesting to see how this massive user number impacts the playing field in a saturated messaging market. As WhatsApp plans to move into the Business-To-Consumer (B2C) communications market and tries to deploy end-to-end encryption, the product will come head-to-head with competitors like Telegram and Facebook’s own Messenger, which boasts a cool 800 million users independently.