WhatsApp, which is the most commonly used messaging application was released in the year 2009. It was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for USD 19 billion, and is globally accessed. In India, there are about 200 million active users and they prefer not to switch to any other application. Even the messaging apps released in India are not preferred by many people.
According to various surveys, in India, the most frequently downloaded or common application is WhatsApp. It is a cross-platform messaging and Voice over (VoIP) service. A few applications that were released in India constantly failed to replace it. The latest one being ‘Kimbho’ app which was released by Ramdev Baba’s Patanjali.
What is Kimbho all about?
A few days after the release of the Patanjali-BSNL sim card, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali released a “Swadeshi” application called Kimbho on May 30, 2018 in New Delhi, a messaging app with the facilities of voice and video calling, which means to ask about someone’s well being or “how are you?” in Sanskrit parley. It was released with the motive of replacing WhatsApp in India, as it has been developed using “Swadeshi” technology by experts. Just one day after the application was released it was deleted from Google play store. It is still available on IOS. After its release, it was immensely criticised by the people. A French researcher tweeted that he could access to all the messages of the users and that it is a “security disaster”. Faisal Kawoosa, Head New Initiatives (CyberMedia Research) also said that it will not be possible for Kimbho to take over WhatsApp, as only around 5,000 installations have been made, that too, with a negative response mostly. A number of twitter users mocked the new application. Even though, it has a “swadeshi” touch, it was quite similar to another application. The main motive of the application to replace Whatsapp seems to be impossible as of now.
It is not the first time that an Indian application did not gain enough popularity in the market. There have been various other messaging applications that did not last.
Indian messaging applications that failed to achieve growth
Among various applications that were released in India, a few common ones are ‘Hike’ and ‘Nimbuzz’.
Hike, released in the year 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal is a messaging application with Voice over (VoIP) service with various other facilities for users to exchange graphics, images, stickers, videos etc. It gained quite a lot of popularity throughout the country, but failed to replace WhatsApp. It had a number of users initially, but it decreased with time.
Nimbuzz is another example of one such application. It was released in the year 2008 by Anubhav Nagar, CEO of Nimbuzz and was acquired by MSM Global Holdings Limited in the year 2017. It has a facility of instant messaging, free calls, file exchange and it enables users to access to other social media networks. It can be accessed via mobile phones, tablets, computers, etc. It could not gain much popularity and has about 150 million users in 200 countries.
Why are other applications not being able to progress as much?
WhatsApp is a globally recognised brand and it is the most convenient way to communicate with people throughout the world. Other applications released in India, hardly gain any popularity. The question here being, are they not good enough? India has seen a technological growth in the last few years. In spite of that, the applications developed here are somehow not progressing.
There could be a few reasons to it :
- WhatsApp is extremely famous among people and, it does not require any kind of promotion. Whereas, applications like Hike need a lot of promotion as many people are not aware about it.
- WhatsApp is ad-free, which is a great advantage. While using applications, pop-up ads are something that really annoys the users.
- Most of the people have contacts on WhatsApp as almost everyone uses it. While, applications like Hike, Nimbuzz etc. are not that popular so one may not find their friends/relatives on these applications. Hence, they avoid downloading it.
- WhatsApp can also be accessed on the desktop through ‘WhatsApp Web’, which again, is a great facility that many other applications do not have.
WhatsApp, which is a convenient and user-friendly application, has been on demand ever since it was released, and it seems to be irreplaceable at least for a few years from now.