Ronny Lam


Bye Bye WhatsApp

This week the great news came out that Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a whopping 19 billion dollars. Word is that the founders were always heads down, very focused on the product, and didn’t even have a sign on the building. They even turned down a bid from Google for 10 billion dollars, but in the end everybody is for sale.

I was never a big fan of WhatsApp, primarily because of the security issues that were involved. They solved most of them, but besides ssl-transportlayer encryption they didn’t secure anything. The problem was though they everybody was on WhatsApp. If you want to reach somebody it was either by SMS/text or WhatsApp, if you wanted a conversation it had to be WhatsApp. But now that the founders sold their soul to Facebook everything is changing.

I myself am not on Facebook, for a very simple reason: I hate the way Mark Zuckerberg is running the show. There are some huge privacy concerns related to Facebook and the way some things get forced on you is just not my cup of tea. I am the first to admit that Google is not clean either. The fact that Facebook is buying WhatsApp is enough reason for me to leave the network and look for an alternative. And it seems that, with me, a lot more people are doing the same thing. Although I find some of them hypocrites, because they are on facebook already.

One such alternative is Telegram. It may not be the best, but again, it is important that all your friends are there. Encryption seems a bit better, since the app is using SHA1 by default, using client-server-client encryption for normal messages and end-to-end client-client encryption for secure messages. But the SHA1 encryption is a bit outdated. I have looked at other apps, but for now stick with Telegram because all the people are there.

Funny thing about getting on early, and have a large addressbook is that I see people joining the network every hour or so. The app is using a telephone number to identify your contacts and in my case it seems that a substantial percentage of people do not have their phone-number anymore that I have in my addressbook. I can check this by the profile picture that people are uploading.

One last thing. I do not think that since a lot of people are joining Telegram that they are leaving WhatsApp. In most cases it is just going to be another network. So while I was hoping that the price of 35 dollars per user that Facebook originally paid effectively would double or even triple, I don’t think it will happen. In the end Facebook/WhatsApp will still have the same amount of users, and other networks also gained on this success. This means that messaging is hot and will stay hot for a while.