Why WhatsApp Stopped Supporting Blackberry And Nokia This is not abandonment, this is progress.

By Ritu Kochar

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In a blog post on 26 February 2016, WhatsApp Inc. announced its decision to cease support for WhatsApp Messenger from some mobile platforms. The news came in the same week that WhatsApp celebrated its seventh anniversary and shortly after it passed one billion monthly active users (MAUs).

Owned by Facebook, WhatsApp Inc will stop its services for Blackberry (including BlackBerry 10), Nokia S40, and Nokia Symbian S60 by the end of this year. Additionally, it will no longer support Android 2.1 and 2.2 or Windows Phone 7.1.

Explaining the need for such action, the announcement said, "When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people's use of mobile devices looked very different from today. The Apple App Store was only a few months old. About 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia. Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft – which account for 99.5 percent of sales today – were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold at the time."

The aim is to focus attention on the platform majority of the people use. Blackberry and Nokia phones with old Android operating systems tend to lack certain elements, which WhatsApp, with new features installed every coming day, uses. This becomes a hindrance for app developers to continue only some feature or develop some for those particular operating systems, just for a small number of people when compared to a greater whole. "While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future," said the announcement. If you use one of these affected mobile devices, WhatsApp recommend "upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone before the end of 2016 to continue using the app'.

WhatsApp has evolved a great deal since its inception as a simple mobile-messaging app — it now offers voice calls, and video calls are reportedly being added too. Other than this, their new feature just for iphones will allow users to send data from icoud, Dropbox and Google drive. And it seems this, in part at least, explains why the company is looking to refocus its efforts in terms of the platforms it supports.

The news became centre of attention also because, for some time now, Blackberry has been dropping hints of doing away with its operating system and experimenting with Android. The company assured its distressed users that the Blackberry operating system is very much alive and is not being abandoned. In response to a line of questioning from CNET, CEO of Blackberry, John Chen, acknowledged that the company was only planning on launching Android hardware for the remainder of 2016 (not a lot, though, just one or two phones). The step is to save the company from the debacle in its face. Even if the company decides to go this way, Android seems like an unlikely saviour, being the sole reason that led to Blackberry's hardware division to the brink of extinction.
Ritu Kochar

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

Ritu used to work as a Feature writer for Entrepreneur India.

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