According to its founder, Jan Koum, WhatsApp has crossed 900 million monthly active users. The staggering monthly user base makes WhatsApp one of the most popular messengers online. Whatsapp is popular in India despite India’s very-own messaging application Hikes by BSB (Bharti Softbank) that allows similar features for free. Not only do the free apps enable free sharing of videos and pictures, but they also allow users to make free calls using the chat application.
One of the things that fascinates me about Indians is that they send a lot of jokes by SMS and Whatsapp. I never see too many Americans do that. Is this a cultural things or do they have too much time? Phone calling and picture sharing is all cool, and Indians are known to make the optimum use of technology, be it giving missed calls to convey pre-fixed messages, or using free chat softwares to make calls and share jokes, pictures and funny videos.
Maybe it has to do with the Indian culture of ‘staying in touch’. Indians use Whatsapp to convey humor, greet mornings with pictures and share a light moment during a busy day to keep the communication with friends and family active. In America, Whatsapp is not really a part of American culture and it is hardly surprising to see them rarely use it. Americans are more likely to respond to creative use of technology as a “real-time” need for something. Just like voicemail has always worked for Americans, I wonder if they would rather use Whatsapp for leaving voice messages?
This makes me think of local cultures when it comes to technology and related products on communication—some services/products are likely to work better due to prevailing social norms that influence a society, making themdo well on the domestic front, but the same service/product may simply not succeed in other global locations owing to cultural differences and a lack of comfort in using them. Indians seem to have well-accepted free text messaging on whatsapp, and they use free calling apps all the time, whereas in America, it is not at all common.
What are the other reasons Americans do not use Whatsapp and other apps like Googleplay, Viber and Facebook messenger etc.? How about Indians living in America? Do they prefer texting on whatsapp? Or do they use it to connect with friends in India? What are your reasons for using chat apps. Share your thoughts with me.
Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.