“Stop trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.
But with its new status update, WhatsApp tries to stand out by just fitting in, but really?”
WhatsApp has just rolled over a new update for the app.
Users will now be able to share a ‘pictorial’ or ‘video’ status in place of the simple text status (as present earlier). This is akin to the concept of ‘SnapChat’ and ‘Instagram Stories’.
From the olden days’ ‘Hey there! I am using WhatsApp’ status to today’s ‘Hey there! I am having lot’s of fun’ feature added today, WhatsApp has grown by leaps and bounds.
Purposes Of This Post
(1) To give an overview of the new feature
(2) Comparison of the three – WhatsApp, SnapChat and Instagram
(3) What does this mean for WhatsApp?
(4) Personal opinion
(5) Summing up
Let us start away with point (1).
New Feature Overview
|Old Status||New Status|
|Pure text and emoji||Pure picture/video with caption|
|Stays forever until manually changed by user||Vanishes after 24 hours – user has to upload a new status|
|Shared with all contacts||User can choose whom to share to/not to share to|
|User cannot see who has viewed the status||User can see the number and the people who viewed the status|
And that is it. A small feature update – but one having huge repercussions on how we previously viewed WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Vs SnapChat Vs Instagram
|Type||Messaging App (mainly text, but supports images, videos, GIFs)||Image Messaging App||Photo-Sharing App|
|Daily Users||600 million||100 million||500 million|
|Majority Of Users (Monthly)||India||USA||USA|
|User Age Group||All age groups||Millennials||Millennials|
|Features||Texting, pic/video/GIF sharing, document sharing||Temporary snaps shared||Permanent picture uploads|
|Privacy||Very private||Very private||Private/Public – user’s choice|
What Does This Mean For WhatsApp?We can see that majority of monthly users of WhatsApp are from India, while that of Instagram and SnapChat are from the USA.
By adding the feature of temporary picture statuses that last for only 24 hours before vanishing, WhatsApp is entering the territory of SnapChat’s very basis of existence, their ‘Snaps’ and Instagram’s ‘Stories’.
Both Snaps and Stories are temporary shares of pictures/videos that will disappear away.
By modifying the status to include this feature, WhatsApp seeks to lure the millennials using SnapChat and Instagram from countries apart from India (the USA, European nations, etc) to itself.
This is a very clever marketing tactic, but will it really pay out dividends?
From the first look of reactions on Twitter and chats with fellow users, nobody seems to be very happy with this update.
So this could be a gamble tried out by WhatsApp.
|Hey there! I am using WhatsApp!’|
The above status has now become…
|Hey there! Wait, which picture do I upload here? Whom do I block this update from? Whom can I share this update to?’|
The days of ‘Available’, ‘Busy’ and ‘Enter Song Name Here’ will become pictures of ‘Having fun at a party!’, ‘Stuck in a traffic jam!’ and ‘Small video clip of the song itself’.
Personally, this update does not fit well with WhatsApp.
Listing down the reasons below here:
WhatsApp is meant, for me, at least, a ‘texting’ platform through which I can share texts, links and once in a while images/videos and GIFs for laughs/festive occasions.
The ‘text status’ option of yesterdays was meant as just a subtle hint of my life – if at all I wanted to give one.
‘Available’ – Ready to chat up people and respond
‘Busy’ – Not so ready to chat up
‘Deep quotes’ – Something I might be going through right now, portrayed in a subtle way so that there is a fine balance between privacy and sharing
‘Song names’ – Any song I that I liked and would like everyone to know, but in a subtle way
So these were just subtle ways in which we shared our worlds with our friends. The ‘text status’ was perfect that way – you did not have to worry about sharing too much that you had to think of blocking the status away from someone.
Changing ‘text’ to ‘picture’, makes me over-think what I should share with others. Sure, there are options to share only to select people or block the share from select people, but at what price? Who has the time to filter out privacy levels of sharing among the so many contacts we all have? We can’t share all things with everyone, can we?
WhatsApp is also used widely in India by the older generation, our parents and grandparents alike. Picture sharing is very much a millennial thing, enforcing it on all age groups would lead them to be confused and feel out of place.
I can view the number of people who have viewed my picture status. Wait, I thought Facebook and WhatsApp were different, this is akin to seeing the number of likes you have got on your profile picture. I feel so out of place today.
The status vanishes after 24 hours. I cannot upload a new status everyday, I don’t have something new to share everyday, do I?
I miss the good old WhatsApp – clean, text messaging with a few add-ons before this update.
This makes me feel lost – I don’t know whether I am using WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat!
Sure, time will heal everything and I will get used to it much like how I adapted to WhatsApp from SMS.
But there will be a longing for the older version of WhatsApp, which won’t go away anytime soon.
Summing Up (Neutral View)
With this new update, WhatsApp is trying to stand out among its other social media competitors by fitting in with them.
And it does that well, it syncs well and it might end up being popular as a hub for different types of social media – maybe that is where it is headed.
It may not work well in India from the beginning, but it will surely attract more users from western countries where SnapChat and Instagram are the norm for social media.
Slowly it will filter into our lives and will become a hit in the western countries and then in India as well.
And what better way to do that than introducing similar features in addition to an already existing brilliant messaging platform?
WhatsApp, after becoming a master of one trade, is trying to be the jack of other trades.
But I feel a modified version of the quote holds good for now.
Jack of all trades, but master of one.