Yesterday WhatsApp announced the launch of a Web browser tool for people who wanted to access their WhatsApp messages on Chrome. Currently only available for Android, more versions of this tool will soon be available. The question that comes up is what is the necessity for such a tool for a messaging service which is primarily mobile focussed.
The answer to that question is what does WhatsApp and other messaging services see themselves as? As referred to in earlier blog posts , these applications/ services dont just see themselves as a tool to replace SMS or GTalk. They look at themselves as an entirely new social platform, something to replace Facebook and eventually Twitter. It’s also the reason these services provide broadcast channels and other tools to help people share content , not just among themselves but to strangers. It’s also the reason most websites now include a sharing option on WhatsApp .
By including a web tool, WhatsApp not only helps reach out to older folks more comfortable with a regular website format as opposed to a mobile application, they also make it easier for them to track usage and trends while possibly using cookings in the website to get more information on the user. In the future, once voice calling comes into play, they might want to enable some of the features that Apple currently provides on FaceTime, allowing folks to answer Voice calls on their laptops/ desktops and making the process seamless.
For Facebook, WhatsApp’s web tool also helps them move one step closer to integration with Facebook.Over time, the web tool might ask for a Facebook login as an alternative to mobile numbers thus helping them reach out to a wider audience and replacing their existing Messaging tool, which is one of the top apps on the Android Play Store but doesnt come close to the current usage and user base of WhatsApp. With Facebook already owning 21 % of the mobile marketing market, this might give them another digital touchpoint for future reference.it’s probably easier for them to share promoted content on the web tool, as opposed to the mobile application which wouldnt be as friendly.
It would be interesting to see the response of competitors such as Telegram, WeChat etc who are still in pockets of the world and need to expand quickly or come up with differentiators to keep hold of their existing users.