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article imageWhatsApp used by one billion people worldwide

By James Walker     Feb 2, 2016 in Technology
Popular instant messaging platform WhatsApp has announced that one billion people are now active on its network, making it one of the largest services online. WhatsApp has been experiencing explosive growth over the past few years.
The company only reached 500 million users in April 2014, still a remarkable feat given the service had only been online for five years at that time. In the past few months, the platform has gone from strength to strength though, adding another 100 million users every few months.
Now owned by Facebook, WhatsApp has become renowned worldwide for its secure encrypted messages, feature-filled app available on a multitude of different platforms and popularity amongst many different groups of users. Today, one in seven people on the planet use WhatsApp every month, collectively sending billions of messages each day.
"We are proud of this milestone, and we're humbled by the extraordinary ways all of you have used WhatsApp," the company said in a statement today. "Whether it's sharing vital information during natural disasters or health emergencies, finding a date, growing a small business, buying an engagement ring, or seeking a better life - we're honored to be a small part of what people are doing to make their lives and the lives of those around them better."
WhatsApp is now looking towards the future, aiming to add even more users to its platform as it spreads around the world. Recently, the company axed its $1 annual subscription charge and made the service completely free, opening it up to people in developing nations where credit card access is a luxury.
In the near future, the app will expand to allow its users to communicate directly with businesses and organisations, a feature Facebook has already implemented on its own Messenger platform. People will be able to get quick help and advice from companies when they encounter an issue with a product or service, eliminating long waiting times for phone helplines or email exchanges.
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said: "WhatsApp's community has more than doubled since joining Facebook. We've added the ability for you to call loved ones far away. We've dropped the subscription fee and made WhatsApp completely free. Next, we're going to work to connect more people around the world and make it easier to communicate with businesses."
By passing the billion users mark, WhatsApp has joined a small but growing minority of smartphone apps to gain the achievement. However, mere hours after the company wrote its blog post, Google used its earnings call to reveal it now has one billion active Gmail users, indicating that online services are still growing and are increasing in popularity.
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