WhatsApp has conquered the world — except for America.
Because most people use iPhones, Apple's iMessage is the dominant messaging platform in America.
Mark Zuckerberg hopes to change that by making the Meta-owned WhatsApp more popular in the US.
Apple's blue-bubble texts have made messaging a tribal affair for many Americans.
iPhone users have come to feel a degree of comfort — or superiority, depending on your perspective — when using iMessage because of the blue bubbles containing their texts when interacting with fellow iPhone users.
Green bubbles that appear when iPhone users text anyone else, on the other hand, tell them they're dealing with someone who isn't Team Apple. That's an oddity in the US, where almost 80% of Gen Z consumers prefer iPhones over Android devices, Bloomberg Intelligence found last year.
As superficial as this color-coded system may seem, it's meant a lot to Apple. The company has aggressively defended the blue-green split, going as far as shooting down an app in December that allowed Android users to disguise their messages in blue bubbles.
Mark Zuckerberg may have a plan to burst those bubbles.
The Meta CEO reigns over an empire of social-media apps familiar to many Americans. Facebook and Instagram are, after all, common screen-time gobblers.
But there is one Meta app that isn't as popular yet in the US: WhatsApp.
Facebook bought the instant-messaging app for $19 billion in 2014 and has been able to turn it into a worldwide megahit ever since.
About 2 billion people are thought to use the app globally, though most are outside the US. Zuckerberg hopes to change that.
In an interview last year, he described WhatsApp as Meta's "next chapter" — a bold statement to make in a year that AI, efficiency strategies, and the metaverse dominated.
What can Americans expect from this "next chapter?" Zuckerberg has offered a few clues.
WhatsApp is aiming to be business-friendly. The company said a person running a business account can link multiple devices together, enabling more employees to "respond to customer messages from anywhere."
Meta also offers tools for brands such as Chevrolet and Samsung to reach customers, including those that allow them to address queries without engaging "live support" and ways of placing orders on the app.
Such features seem to interest businesses: The number of WhatsApp's daily business users jumped by 80% in the US last year, data from Apptopia first reported by the Big Technology newsletter shows.
WhatsApp is also trying to be an app everyone can use. As internet users increasingly sour on social media, the need for private spaces to interact with friends and family — such as WhatsApp group chats — has only grown.
'Channels' and group chats
WhatsApp is trying to offer the perks of social media without the publicity.
For users who may miss certain social-media features — such as the ability to follow people — WhatsApp introduced a "Channels" feature last year that allows anyone to follow their favorite influencers and get updates from a "broadcast." Think of it as an Instagram story update.
WhatsApp is trying to build a better group-chat experience, too. Though Apple offers a group-chat feature on iMessage, users are limited to adding up to 32 extra people. On WhatsApp, a group can have more than 1,000 users.
Is this enough to pry people away from their blue bubbles? Zuckerberg hopes so.
In late 2022, the Meta chief acknowledged that while there is still some time before bets on the metaverse can prove successful, "business messaging is probably going to be the next major pillar of our business as we work to monetize WhatsApp and Messenger more."
Expect him to push that hard in the US.
Read the original article on Business Insider