What’s Up With WhatsApp?

The other day I had a very obvious realization. I was watching a 90’s movie and the main female character was struggling to unlock her front door as her male suitor left a message for her on the answering machine.  Just as she burst through the door to pick up the phone, he hung up. It was at this point that I realized how far society and technology has come since then. Communication is such an essential part of our everyday lives. Most of the new generation doesn’t remember the struggle of fighting to get on the internet while a sibling was on the phone. They never experienced rushing to grab the phone before the person on the other end hung up, only to just miss them by a second. Finally, they never had to call a friend’s home phone, leave a message, and spend the next few hours waiting by the landline for the phone call to be returned.  Today, contacting another person is as easy as reaching into your pocket for your smartphone, sending a quick text or snap, and waiting approximately ten seconds for a reply. Needless to say, this scene from Coyote Ugly really got me thinking about the endless possibilities we now have to talk to the people in our lives. More specifically, I began thinking about the numerous messaging systems we have available.

messaging-apps

According to Statista, there are at least four different messaging apps people in the US use daily to talk to their peers. As of July 2015, the leading apps included iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype. Each platform, although very similar, serves a very specific purpose for its consumers. For example, I use each platform to contact different groups of friends. When messaging my immediate family or friends, like those I grew up with or went to college with, iMessage is my first choice. The main reason behind this is simply familiarity. I purchased my first iPhone when Apple released its products to phone providers other than AT&T and iMessage was the only messaging app available on the phone.  I was a freshman in college and all of my friends were jumping on the new iPhone bandwagon, so I decided to ditch my Blackberry for the shiny new toy. Since we started communicating on this platform, we’ve never had reason to switch over to any other platform. If we move platforms, we would lose all the past conversations and pictures.

The next two platforms I began using were Facebook Messenger and GroupMe. These first came into my life between Sophomore and Junior year of college. Although most of my immediate friend group had switched to iPhones, about half of my friends from my Acappella group had switched to Androids. This made communicating on iMessage difficult at times, especially when chatting with big groups. To avoid this inconvenience, we decided to bring our group chats to Facebook Messenger and GroupMe. Both of these services allowed us to talk to each other and avoid any complications due to differing operating systems.

The last messaging platform I adopted was WhatsApp. This started more recently when my friends and I went to the Dominican Republic for spring break. This app allowed us to use wifi to text and call one another, helping us to avoid paying for an international cell service plan for the week. Although it began as an easy fix to a potentially expensive vacation problem, this year I have adopted it as yet another medium I use to communicate with my friends. When I entered graduate school, I became friends with girls that used this platform instead of iMessage. This was mainly because they were international students and it provided them with a way to communicate with people from both home and school without worrying about the international plan. No matter what the reason was for incorporating this app into my everyday life, it has now become the messaging app that I prefer to use and more people are beginning to feel the same way.

Last week, one of our classmates talked about WeChat and how it has made everyday life more convenient. In today’s society, convenience is valued above all else.  This is seen with the popularity of delivery apps and car services, and yet we allow ourselves to be pulled in multiple directions when it comes to messaging apps. On any given day, I use each app at least 5 times. Although I do have valid reasons for using each platform, I do hope that someday, in the near future, one company is able to make the changes necessary to become the leading and main source of texting and communication. Now the big question is: who will be brave enough and have the necessary resources to do so?

 

https://www.statista.com/statistics/331825/mobile-messenger-app-reach-usa/

 

9 comments

  1. Nice post! There really are a LOT of messaging apps out there and it can get real annoying when you have a group project that uses GroupMe, another that uses WhatsApp, and a group message with friends in Messenger. You make a good comparison between the old days where communication was rough (reminds me of shows like Friends that had so many miscommunications because of the phone. and of the days where I called my friend’s landline and prayed her parents wouldn’t pick up) versus now where there are way too many ways to communicate.

  2. Liked this post! I can totally relate to this. I thought back on my day today in terms of messenger apps. I used iMessage to communicate with my friends on campus, back home, and my mom, I used whatsapp to communicate with my friends in Latin America, Europe, and that are Latin American even though they are on the BC campus, I used Group Me for my group projects, I used Facebook messenger to answer a question someone had about interview, and I used Wecaht to talk to my friends in Beijing. All these different messaging system can get exhausting. i honestly wish there was a way to combine the best of each platform into one. Another thing I found interesting is that even though all my friends from Latin America has iMessage here on the BC campus and can use it to communicate, they all still prefer to communicate through whatsapp. Whatsapp has a huge cultural ties in Latin America. It is defiantly the messaging platform of choice above all else.

  3. Interesting analysis of the usage of different messaging apps! As you mentioned, each of these apps have a very similar function but serve a different purpose for its users. I think communicating between iPhones and Androids is one of the main reasons that these apps have been successful. I have a lot of family abroad and WhatsApp is our only source of communication. Not only is it expensive to call abroad, a majority of them have Androids. WhatsApp has really solved both sides of the issue for me and has allowed us to have a groupchat of 25+ family members.

  4. vicmoriartybc · ·

    I agree that the struggle of using multiple messaging platforms is very real. Whenever I get a GroupMe notification, I feel myself rolling my eyes as I have to open or click over to the app from iMessage, which is the app I’m usually using. I actually get annoyed when someone messages me on Facebook rather than just iMessaging me, because I rarely ever check Facebook Messenger. I probably take for granted the fact that just 10-15 years ago, people didn’t have the ability to quickly communicate with others through ANY messaging apps. I think I would have been just as annoyed or more back then if I missed messages from my friends because I couldn’t get my door open in time.

  5. It’s a pretty interesting problem we have now that there are two many messaging apps. Our attention is diverted to so many platforms, and it can be difficult to keep up with. I know that I often leave messages unread for significant periods of time on some applications while on others I am far more diligent. If there was a single source of communication it would be much easier to remain on top of all my relationships. It almost feels like I have different types of friends or priorities on different platforms.

  6. My wife and I were having a similar conversation, filling out contact numbers for my daughter’s school. “Emergency Contacts” were from a day when we all didn’t carry cell phones. Now I can’t imagine a situation in which both my wife and I would be out of contact individually, let alone at the same time.

  7. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Great point about the different use for each messaging platform. While it’s frustrating to manage so many platforms they originally grew out of different an unmet needs. I’ve been attempting slim down my messaging applications, I don’t have the time or patience to monitor and use each one. I deleted the facebook app and only facebook message someone if I realize I don’t their phone number (and ask for it immediately in the message). I travel internationally for work and use whatsapp to communicate with my co-workers but once we are back in the US I try to only use imessage. It’s confusing but by trying to use one application I at least feel a bit more in control!

    I love the last sentence of your post, I also wonder who will be brave enough and who has the resources to create an all encompassing messaging platform. The true question will be whether or not it can evolve to meet all needs, if not, a new platform will eventually pop up…

  8. Aditya Murali · ·

    Great post!! You mentioned iMessage and how if you switched over to an android or any other non-Apple device, you’d lose all your messages and media that you shared with each other. I certainly feel the same way, in that I am very attached to iMessage. Since I got my first iPhone in middle school, more and more of my friends have gotten onto iMessage, and as a Sophomore in BC, the thought of switching phones and not having iMessage anymore gives me nightmares. I am so used to Apples messaging service that I will sacrifice not getting a better/more sophisticated phone so I can stay on iMessage with all my friends. Talk about switching costs and network effects!!

  9. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great blog post! I remember leaving voice mails for my friends way back in the day and now I’m iMessaging them instantly! Going off that, being an iPhone user for many years, I’ve been conditioned to feel comfortable with the blue bubbles and iMessaging overall. The sign of green bubble is immediate dissatisfaction and I try to avoid GroupMe as much as I can. Also, I personally find FB messenger slow to load on my phone and the notifications are always delayed. On the other hand, WhatsApp is the go to messenger for my family. Having cousins, aunts, and uncles anywhere from Australia to England, WhatsApp has allowed us to all stay in contact and is more user friendly than FB messenger. While I personally am an avid iMessenger user, it’s great to see so many options available!

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