Why don't many Americans know what WhatsApp is?

02/01/2020

SMS is still widely used in the United States, but other messaging platforms are also succeeding and Google is finalizing a universal messaging app.

Why don't many Americans know what WhatsApp is?
Why don't many Americans know what WhatsApp is?

When the crisis that led to Huawei not being able to use Google's Android operating system on his phones occurred, there was a panic about something else. Facebook was another company that was not going to supply software to the Chinese company. That meant not being able to use WhatsApp, something that makes a phone useless to many.

The messaging application is almost a must in some countries. Like Spain. But especially in India. Where it has practically become the main tool for communication. But if we travel to the United States, we may be in for a surprise.

WhatsApp is hardly used in the country where it emerged. In fact, many don't even know exactly what it is. A phenomenon that some fans of Apple products say is simply due to the greater deployment of the iPhone in the country and the use of the iMessage application, which is only compatible with Apple phones. But of course, this does not simply explain the phenomenon.

No matter how widespread the iPhone is in the United States, there are still millions of people who do not use an Apple phone and iPhone users need to communicate with them through messages (and vice versa). The key is that the old SMS are still very popular in the country.

When we send a message with iMessage if the recipient does not have an iPhone, this message becomes a standard SMS. In fact, iMessage is the default message application on the iPhone for receiving SMS.

This boom in SMS in the United States can be explained by the fact that, unlike what happened in other countries, where text messages came to be charged at a premium price, in the United States the cost of SMS was much cheaper or even free. That's why many decided they didn't need anything else when message apps like WhatsApp arrived.

Because people in the U.S. use Facebook a lot, they are using a proprietary messaging service

In addition, due to the enormous use of Facebook in the country, many use the Messenger message platform of this social network. A competitor for WhatsApp created by the same company, but with very different characteristics. On the other hand, we should not lose sight of the fact that other systems are also used to communicate, such as Snapchat or Instagram, used by young people, or Signal and Telegram, for those seeking privacy or sharing large files.

WhatsApp usage has even stagnated in the United States while growing in large areas of the world. At least that's according to a Pew Research Center report: WhatsApp was used by 22 percent of U.S. adults in 2018, but by 2019 the figure has dropped to 20 percent.

In the U.S., people frequently use the SMS

One phenomenon that also explains why SMS is so widely used is that Americans travel outside their country less than people from other countries. In the United States, only 42 percent of people have a passport, a much lower figure than in some European countries. This means that there is no need to use anything other than SMS to communicate with family and acquaintances.

The United States together with China, where the application is banned by the government due to the censorship policy in the country, are the two big black holes of WhatsApp worldwide. The application has challenges on the horizon to continue with its enormous supremacy as an international communication platform in the rest of the world.

Recently Google reported that it has the Chat application for Android Chat ready. This application is neither more nor less than the answer to Apple's iMessage and a serious competitor for WhatsApp. Available for Android phones in the UK and France imminently, it will make its jump to the rest of the world soon.

Although this application is intended to replace text messages in collaboration with telemarketers, in essence, Chat uses the RCS system, which is the successor to SMS messages. The operation of RCS messages is very similar to that of messaging applications.

This makes the system much more attractive than SMS and available on a large number of phones. There is a question as to whether Apple would allow the use of RCS messages on the iPhone, but if teleoperators adopt it massively Google would benefit from this decision. Would we still use WhatsApp? Probably, but it is possible that RCS messaging would take users away from the platform.

RCS messaging works in much the same way as messaging applications.

Source: La Vanguardia