WhatsApp is a free Voice over IP (VOIP) and instant messaging service. It’s available on all major platforms and allows users to voice or video call, send texts, images, and funny little emojis. It’s beloved by a billion users, but it’s not infallible. This SWOT analysis of WhatsApp Messenger explains why.
Strengths: The leading messenger app available on all platforms
The most popular messaging app.
WhatsApp has a massive customer base. Over 1 billion people use it worldwide; to stay in touch with families, discuss business plans with employees, and to keep in touch with friends. Initially, users had free access to WhatsApp for the first year. Then, the app asked for a $1 payment. This was before Facebook bought it for $19 billion in 2014. And why did Facebook spend so much for a messenger app? Because of that gigantic consumer base.
More funds from the Zuck.
The app now has the funds and support from Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for all administrative and legal support. At the moment, the app doesn’t fear ads although users fear this may change now that the Zuck has his fingers in the messaging jar.
Because there is no report of major outrages, WhatsApp remains popular. Websites and apps go down here and there, but you can count on WhatsApp to see you through with its fantastic connectivity. Business owners appreciate the apps constant uptime. If communication between employees were to stagnate, it’d be difficult to keep the business running smoothly.
Little to no bug reports.
There’s also no reported bugs or failures with the app. It’s a pain-free, problem-free messenger for daily use. Again, business owners will especially like this because they need a reliable messaging app for day-to-day use.
WhatsApp being 100% free furthered their popularity. You can call, send text and voice messages, as well as media images and documentation without paying a cent. And when you search for a messaging app on Android, Windows, or iOS, WhatsApp is one of (if not the) top recommendation. It’s preferred by nearly everyone (hence the billion users) because it’s easy to download, set up, and use.
Weaknesses: Possible data privacy issues and a key missing feature
Potential data breaches… perhaps.
Data privacy is the biggest concern for WhatsApp. Zuckerberg continues to plague headlines with data breaches and privacy issues. Now that he owns the messaging app, people worry the problems will leak into WhatsApp as well.
The CEO loves having access to everyone’s business, and with over a billion users currently using the app, it may be too much of a temptation to pass up. And if there are data concerns with WhatsApp, where will people turn? Likely, a vast majority of users will continue to use the app even if privacy issues are known.
Safety in encryption.
WhatsApp does use end-to-end encryption for their messages, meaning only the person who gets your message can read or view it. WhatsApp themselves can’t view or intercept those messages. This feature is automatically on and you can’t turn it off either.
This is all well and good, except that the problem of privacy lies in permissions rather than messages. Some apps ask for permission to view everything in your phone — from SMS to images in your photo gallery. Not all apps need access to those parts, but WhatsApp does.
Reliance on the internet for use.
Another problem is, unlike SMS, WhatsApp requires internet to work. If you don’t have access to cellular data or wifi, you can’t send or receive messages. This means there are certain regions and potential consumers who can’t download or use the app.
No option for group calls.
Group calls is a major feature WhatsApp lacks. You can’t call multiple friends or employees via voice or video in the app. It’s strictly one-to-one. This makes other apps and software, like Skype and Google Hangouts, still relevant for people who need to talk to many people at once.
Opportunities: New targets, trends, and revenue streams
New target markets.
WhatsApp has the opportunity to expand into new regions, especially as the internet becomes available to previously inaccessible areas. The company will need to keep an eye on these regions and then advertise to new potential users immediately. If they don’t, other companies will.
Deliver on new trends.
The app needs to keep up with new technological developments. Everyday current technology is used, turned redundant, then tossed away for the newest iteration. As an app, it can’t afford to fall behind on trends. WhatsApp should remain aware of what customers want. They’re now in a position to create more for their customers.
Time for new revenue streams.
With such a massive consumer base, WhatsApp is in the perfect climate to create new revenue streams. Whether that would be ads (although customers wouldn’t be thrilled…) or some sort of monthly or yearly payment for premium services.
Threats: A popular, but easy-to-replicate app
WhatsApp is a technological product. In theory, it only takes a single new idea to make the app redundant. Or to create a more powerful, responsive, and easier-to-use app. And then people will migrate to this other option, leaving WhatsApp to rot. Alone and forgotten.
Anyone can build a similar app. It’s not investment-heavy. And even though WhatsApp is popular, it’s not unique. Anyone with some coding knowledge can make a clone right now. Then they put it on the app store and wait for people to download.
Policy changes about privacy.
Regulation changes regarding technology use, data and privacy are a massive threat to this platform. For instance, Australia has banned its citizens from using encrypted software. This means apps like WhatsApp and Signal (another private encryption messaging app) aren’t viable for consumer use. Unless they remove the encryption aspect for Australian consumers only. And some companies don’t want to. Instead of conforming, you can’t install the app in Australia.
The possibility of malware and viruses.
Likewise, technology is susceptible to security bugs, malware, and viruses. Someone may be working on code right now to maliciously access the app. Although the encryption makes it near impossible for someone to unscramble the info sent through WhatsApp, that won’t stop someone from trying.
WhatsApp is the leading messaging app on Android, Windows, and iOS systems. It’s easy to install and simple to use. But it’s also directly linked to Mark Zuckerberg and all his scandals. You also can’t use the app unless you’re hooked up to the internet.
It’s free now, but that doesn’t mean the company won’t find ways to further monetize the app. With a billion daily users, it’d be crazy not to. And considering how the app is easy to formulate, they may want to think about monetizing sooner than later. You know, before a replacement shows up.
Recommended: How to do a SWOT analysis from start to finish.