WhatsApp Reaches 5 Billion Downloads On Play Store

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Facebook’s messaging service has hit 5 billion downloads, amid reports that it has backed off plans to insert adverts into WhatsApp

Facebook has achieved a milestone for its WhatsApp Android app, after it reached 5 billion downloads on the Google Play Store.

WhatsApp is only the second non-Google app to reach the milestone, as the Facebook app was the first non-Google app to achieve this.

With this achievement, WhatsApp for Android has joined an exclusive club which currently is only made up of nine apps in total. So what are the other apps included in this club?

Download milestone

As to be expected for the Android platform, Google apps dominate reaching the five billion download mark.

The other apps to achieve this on Android are Google Play Services; Google Maps; Google Text to Speech; Gmail; Google; Google Chrome; Google Play Music; YouTube; Facebook (and now WhatsApp).

Facebook’s other popular Android app (Instagram) is at the 1.8 billion download mark for comparison sake.

WhatsApp has been available on Android for over a decade now.

Facebook had acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for a staggering $22bn, despite the fact that WhatsApp at the time had a tiny revenue stream.

Advertising policy

When WhatsApp first launched in 2009, it had a strong privacy leaning and its creators promised it would not sell its users’ data or put ads on the platform.

Read our Tales in Tech History about WhatsApp’s early days.

Instead, it charged a yearly fee of 99 cents in order to generate revenue and cover the costs of hosting the chats.

But gradually this stance was weakened under Zuckerberg’s ownership, as the old guard was removed.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton for example left Facebook in November 2017 over concerns about the way Facebook “probed” at the app’s end-to-end encryption and its desire to monetise its messaging platform.

He was followed by the other co-founder, Jan Koum, who in May 2018 departed Facebook after he also reportedly clashed with its attempts to use personal data and weaken its encryption.

In May 2019 Facebook confirmed that WhatsApp would begin to carry adverts from 2020, after warning it would do so previously.

But last week it is reported that Facebook is once again backing off its advertising plan for WhatsApp.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the team that had been working on building ads into WhatsApp was disbanded in recent months, with their work subsequently “deleted from WhatsApp’s code.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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