Will WhatsApp Win Over Viber and Skype?

According to reports, the new version and update for WhatsApp, will have a voice call option.

Users are still waiting for the update, which was initially scheduled for the second quarter of 2014. Smartphone users will be able to call their contacts, in addition to message/chat through WhatsApp. The application is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. Facebook bought the message servicing application for $19 billion, and it seems like the company will waste no time upgrading it.

The feature will initially be available only for Android and iOS devices, but Windows Phone and BlackBerry will get it as well. Adding voice calls would make WhatsApp the ultimate communication application on the market. WhatsApp can now compete with Viber and Skype, two widely popular apps for international calls. Currently, the application is ranked No.9 in top free applications in Goggle Play (behind Viber at No.2 and Skype at No.4). However, that might change once it launches the voice call feature.

WhatsApp Versus the Competition

WhatsApp has a slight advantage over the competition. The application uses the least amount of bandwidth, and is extremely optimized for a voice calling feature. Users can expect exceptional quality. This is the single greatest advantage the application has. Both Skype and Viber are known to have a few seconds delay during voice calls. The CEO of WhatsApp, back in April, said that the focus will be on simplicity. With WhatsApp, you can make a call via Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Leaked photos of the feature show the application will have buttons for mute, message, speakers and end call.

There is still no word on whether the feature will be free. Messaging on WhatsApp is initially free, but after one year, users need to pay $0.99 for subscription. It will be interesting to see whether the app will follow the same path with the voice calling option. WhatsApp has never bothered users with added costs for big profits, but that might change. At the moment, the application has 465 million monthly active and 330 million daily active users.

Possible downsides

The biggest downside with WhatsApp is the lack of privacy. The application is greatly secured, but privacy is an issue. Since the application uses your phone number as identifier, everyone who has your phone, automatically has you on WhatsApp as well. This bears the question – do you want all your phone contacts in your WhatsApp contact list as well? This may mean that some random person, whom you gave your phone number to load you a recharge card, may now be your contact on WhatsApp. And with the voice call option added soon, some random people may start bothering you.

Everyone is ecstatic and excited for the new feature. One thing we are concerned is, how will the overall experience of the application handle all the new possibilities? Will the new feature make WhatsApp even more engaging? Or, maybe the opposite will happen, and users will start drifting away from it. One thing is certain, having more options is always good. And with the added feature, users can call their friends anywhere in the world not just with Skype and Viber, but with WhatsApp as well. And who knows, maybe the added competition will make everyone better, as they try to improve their own services.

The update for WhatsApp was initially scheduled for the second quarter of the year. However, it still hasn’t hit the market. There have been no confirmations on release date yet.

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