WhatsApp User Base Growing Rapidly
April 23, 2014

WhatsApp Monthly Users Top 500 Million

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

WhatsApp has once again reached a milestone, and is excitedly touting about it on the company's blog, reporting that it has 500 million users around the world regularly using the messaging service.

An increase of approximately 100 million monthly active users has occurred since the start of the year. In December WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum reported the app had 400 million monthly active users.

Much of the growth has been in developing countries. The newly-acquired Facebook property said it has experienced the most growth in Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia. Users across the board share more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos daily. Developing countries are on Facebook's radar, and the social network is working on technology that will help provide Internet - and access to Facebook - to remote areas in developing countries. Facebook is still looking for growth in parts of the world where mobile is more prevalent, and the population is still just getting online.

Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was just approved by the FTC earlier this month after a highly contested regulatory review. The deal valued at $19 billion has not yet closed. European regulators still have to sign off on the proposed acquisition.

The still-pending deal may be why WhatsApp CEO Koum isn't resting on the half a million milestone. "We could go on, but for now, it's more important that we get back to work -- because here at WhatsApp, we're just getting started." Koum is suggesting the company practice some focus, reports Re/code. Koum said that the company's engineers are going to fix bugs in the software, among other tasks.

"His point: While the public story of WhatsApp may have been rather exciting of late, the internal focus has been rather boring. And apparently, that’s just how Koum likes it," wrote Liz Gannes of Re/code.

WhatsApp hasn't run without problems over the past few months. Early in April there were reports of an outage that took the glint off of an announcement of record usage. The service went down hours after Koum reported it serviced 20 billion messages inbound and 44 billion outbound in just one day.

One bug that has presumably been fixed is a vulnerability exposed (but not exploited) by a hacker. The bug allowed hackers to access user contact lists to gain more information.

While WhatsApp hasn't gotten any new features in the past few months, it is expecting to add a significant feature in the next few months: free voice calls, Re/code reports. The upcoming feature was announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year. Voice calls follows the release of voice messaging, which was introduced last summer.

Koum and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton plan to stay in place at the company once the acquisition is completed. One of the conditions placed on Facebook and WhatsApp by the FTC is to keep the privacy settings of WhatsApp intact. That is not to share everything with everyone along the lines of a Facebook news stream.