WhatsApp now has 430 million users, says “we have a lot more on Android” than iOS

Daniel Bader

January 20, 2014 12:10pm

One of WhatsApp’s cofounders effusively praised Android this past weekend, calling it “a lot more open. We are able to build new features and prototype faster… not to mention that we have a lot more users on Android [than iOS].”

WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, Jan Koum, was speaking at the DLD conference in Munich, talking up his company’s relentless focus of “no ads, no games, no gimmicks.” What amounts to one of the longest-running lean startup mentalities in the business, the company now boasts 430 million users across several platforms despite employing only 50 people, half of whom deal with localization and translation. That number is up 30 million from mid-December.

While WhatsApp has reportedly received purchase offers by the likes of Facebook and Google for around $4 billion, it appears that the company, borne of former Yahoo employees, is here to stay, and stay independent.

Though many companies have desired to stay independent until a perfect offer came around — Nest, which sold to Google for $3.2 billion last week was one example — WhatsApp could be the exception to the rule. With sustained revenue based on an annual subscription of $0.99/year per user, and extremely low overhead, the impetus to stay independent and ad-free is real.

WhatsApp has also weathered many security and privacy issues, both of its own making and indirectly, through competitors like Snapchat and Kik. WhatsApp was once accused of transferring messages and passwords without encryption, something it quickly rectified; more recently, Snapchat was accused of not doing enough to ensure its own user base’s security, which lead to millions of names and phone numbers being posted to an online database.

WhatsApp also recently overhauled its iOS and Android apps, and fixed some lingering problems on Windows Phone 8. It’s available for BlackBerry 10, too, one of the few big-name messaging services to make the effort, and looks to be adding new users at a steady clip. While the breakdown between platforms has not been stated, it’s reasonable to think that Android users, who never had to pay upfront for the app unlike their iOS counterparts, outnumber Apple users by almost 2:1.

  • Max Fireman

    I know there are a lot of whatsapp haters and BBM lovers, but whatsapp is my daily driver. Friends all over the world use it and it never fails me.

    • Tom

      I have Whatsapp, Viber, and BBM all installed. BBM for some friends who are attached, Viber for calling and being able to use my PC’s keyboard when I can, and Whatsapp for some other people (and also to send photos, since Whatsapp compresses photos the least out of the three apps).

    • JTon

      Most people don’t know about this option, but you can request a HQ (high-quality) version of a picture in BBM (long press select request HQ). Sender needs to accept. Then it will resend the picture uncompressed. Very valuable feature

    • Tom

      I’m aware of that yeah. However the fact that you can’t initiate HQ sending from the start makes this not the most elegant solution. It’s a good feature to have, but it wouldn’t hurt to have Whatsapp-level compression as well (use a few more kB of data for better image quality)

  • Christopher Robert

    iOS users are not smart with their money, that is why they bought an iPhone, and it is why they have no problem shelling out $10 to $20 a month extra for text messaging.

    Android users are more interested in getting more for their money, This is why they buy a phone that on average cost 50% less than an iPhone and has better specs/features. They are also more likely willing to look for alternative way to get features they like for free. So saving $10-$20 a month is a no brainer for them. They either use Whatsup, Hangouts, BBM, Google Voice, or another alternative text service and keep their money.

    • jroc

      Wow. Way to generalize an entire group of people in a very inaccurate way.

      I will say that pretty much every one of my friends that uses an iPhone has either WhatsApp or BBM installed on their phone. Further to that, they can use iMessage, and almost every phone plan in Canada comes with unlimited text anyway.

    • Christopher Robert

      Well we all know Canada people are smarter than their American counter parts.

    • JTon

      That’s not very canadian of you

    • Tom

      And if you didn’t notice, the most popular (aka the best marketed) Android phones are about as expensive as the base iPhone. Samsung Galaxy S3/S4/etc anyone?

    • Christopher Robert

      Not true. You can get MOST of the top notch Android phones for a few hundred dollars less than an iPhone 5S.

    • JTon

      I think you’re both right. When flag ship androids are released they are expensive. But they actually drop in price. Iphones don’t drop much in price

    • Tom

      Not at launch.

    • alphs22

      Last I checked Android flagships are priced in the same ballpark as iPhones, with the exception of the heavily-subsidized Nexus line.

      Also I have an S3 with unlimited texting – not because I need it, but because it comes with my plan. Does having unlimited texting mean I’m not smart with my money? What smartphone plans doesn’t come with unlimited texting?

      Try being not so narrow-minded sometime.

    • Christopher Robert

      Many smart phone plans don’t come with unlimited texting. In fact i bet you pay for your texts as a separate fee and you just don’t realize it. Or you could ask for a plan that doesn’t have texting and lower your payment.

    • alphs22

      The last few years I’ve had 2 plans – Wind’s Unlimited $40 and Fido’s smart $39 plan. Both came with unlimited texting. In fact I don’t know anyone with a smartphone plan without unlimited texting. So no, I’m not paying for texts as a separate fee.

    • Tom

      Maybe that is true for older plans that you grandfather in, which are no longer offered. Or maybe you work for a telco and get special employee-only plans?

      However, unless you go prepaid, it’s impossible to escape unlimited texting on all the carriers I see. I don’t use prepaid because I need nationwide calling, and thus I have no choice.

      In the US, it is true that AT&T charges an extra fee for unlimited texting (if not, you pay 20 cents per text). Certainly AT&T users will forego that and use Whatsapp or similar apps if they’re smart.

      But we’re in Canada. As far as I can tell, it’s impossible to escape unlimited SMS in your plan if you go postpaid, on any of the offerings in 2014.

    • Christopher Robert

      25% to 30% more expensive for an iPhone 5s… you must be in a huge ball park.

    • alphs22

      Where are you pulling those numbers from? Out of your a*s?

      Unlocked S4 from Best Buy is $800. Unlocked iPhone 5S from Apple from $720.

      You can go the cheaper route and buy a BNIB S4 from eBay, but then you can do the same for the iPhone.

    • BetelgeuseOrion

      my note 3 was more expensive outright and on contract than an iphone 5s

    • WatDah

      Wow…. You must be a very smart and informed consumer. Not only are you very aware of the prices on these phones and plans, you also look for ways to get things, created by hardworking developers on a platform that is not making them money, for free. I applaud the way you strategically out smart iPhone users in a cost effective manner, and your willingness to share this information.

    • kilowiko

      And you’re officially a crack head.

  • AReid

    Looking forward to the day that I can read some of the comments and not see any stone throwing. Use/buy the phone you like and that’s it. We are all different….that is all.

    • alphs22

      Reading the comments on MobileSyrup makes me wonder if Apple had murdered the family members of 90% of the people here. I didn’t realize people could have so much hate for a company that makes computers and tech gadgets.

      Or they’re just paid Samsung shills.

    • Christopher Robert

      Actually its called market research. If you look at any data you will see that iPhone users are 300% more likely to pay for services they could get for free than Android users. It is just that simple. If you work in IT with mobile phones or in marketing on mobile phones you just know this to be true. Its not a secret.

    • alphs22

      This post really has nothing to do with what I said

    • WatDah

      And somehow there’s down votes for applaudable comments like yours. This world will never have peace. Funny how freedom to speak your mind is also the number 1 hurdle for unity.

  • alphs22

    Big fan of WhatsApp. Covers all the platform, simple messaging with no frills.

    Although I don’t understand how they make money. After my free year was up it just automatically extended my subscription for free. Same thing happened with my family members and friends. I don’t know anyone who has paid for WhatsApp.

    • WatDah

      Anyone who installed WhatsApp before they announced the $1 annual fee will be able to continue using the service for free.

      I’m also a big fan, and like you, I often wonder the same thing….

    • Anaron

      Isn’t that for iPhone users? They have an unlimited subscription if they installed the app before it was sold for $0.99 on the app store.

      I started using WhatsApp in 2010 on my BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 and it always extended my subscription. It did it again with my Nexus 5 so I’m good until February 2014. I wonder if it’ll be extended again.

    • oceansaber

      WhatsApp accounts stay with the phone # which is used as the account. Which might be why even though you switched phones, it’s been extended ever since.

  • Plazmic Flame

    Personally, rarely use WhatsApp. BBM on iOS and iMessage getting the job done.

    • Anaron

      Everyone’s usage differs. And it usually depends on what your friends use. I have friends that use WhatsApp, BBM, or both. I prefer to use BBM sometimes because of the read receipts. I wish WhatsApp had that.

  • SecureJonny

    I dont know why anyone would hate one app or another, if you don’t like it, don’t use it. I use Whatsapp for trivial communication, SaluSafe for business and BBM, well, for nothing really, not anymore at least.

    • ToniCipriani

      Personal insecurity my friend, that’s what it is. That’s why there is platform wars to start with.

  • BetelgeuseOrion

    why the hell would you use whatsapp when hangouts is on ALL platforms including desktop computers? and its built into android!