When mobiles came into foray, the first thing that became popular was the messaging option. Despite a black and white display, the keypad made it quite easy for them to quickly type and send instant messages at few low costs. These messages were almost half the price of an one minute call and got the job done. Then came SMS rate cutter packs, which gave nearly 100 messages a day free and made it all the more easier.
Around the time smartphones began replacing the basic Java enabled “colour” phones, Brian Acton designed an instant messaging app called “Whatsapp”, which basically changed the whole future of mobiles and communications.
At 1$ a year subscription model and unlimited messages including media content, this was definitely a game changer. It gave the option to converse with multiple people , asynchronously and even send multimedia messages along with images, video and audio. However it stipulated that one should have an internet connection to access or send messages. Though this wasnt a problem, given the rise of 2G/3G internet packs that came bundled with sim cards
Key Impact of Instant Messaging Apps
- The first thing it tried to outdo and replace was long emails. People quickly created groups to pass on messages in a couple of sentences than write big emails.
- Calls were replaced by Whatsapp & Messenger Chats . People didn’t feel the need to call up someone else, every time they wished to convey a message. A message through these apps conveyed whether it was sent, delivered and even read based on the number and color of ticks present.
- Asynchronous communication: Given the busy lifestyle for most people, it is difficult to reach everyone through call all the time. So a message ensured that it was read at the receiver’s convenience than otherwise.
- Sharing Media: Instead of attaching heavy videos and pictures through email or in social networks, it was easier to send a video/audio/image file easily.
- Traditional sim card enabled SMS messages were no longer the norm as it was expensive compared to the internet enabled app messages
- Going International : To talk to someone on the other side of the world, the only way was to dial an ISD call which was around 25rs/ minute. However all apps enabled international messaging for free.
This medium for international communication made a massive impact in the tele communication industry as a whole
- Forging and maintaining relationships : People in long distance relationships were easily able to communicate to each other all the time without the constant fear of rising phone bills
- VOIP calls : The first to launch a free internet based call was Skype. This was slowly replicated to other apps like Whatsapp , Viber. The calls had excellent clarity, with limited disconnects. But given the fact that it was totally free, it was acceptable. Telecom operators had a negative impact in their revenues, thanks to a free calling facility by these apps