Should WhatsApp be wary of Telegram?


WhatsApp, the messaging app giant, had more than 350 million active monthly users globally as of December last year. Out of this, more than 30 million active users come from India. The app has been on a rampage and has greatly affected the way people communicate across the globe. Volumes have been written about the app across media and right now it is the undisputed number one in the instant messaging space. Others like Line and Snapchat have also caught up with some twist in the model and latest on the scene is Telegram, an instant messaging app from VK (the Facebook of Russia). The app has reported 100,000 sign-ups daily and what makes it curious is messages like these doing the rounds on WhatsApp:

What's special about Telegram?

Telegram's claim to fame is the security of the messages and features like self-destructing messages. Nikolai and Pavel Durov launched VK (originally called VKontakte) in 2006 and the brothers began working on Telegram 18 months ago as a research project because they wanted to create something that was really secure and fun at the same time.

Telegram is based on a custom data protocol called MTProto built by Nikolai Durov. The secret chats use end-to-end encryption and they are not stored in the app’s cloud. Telegram wants to earn users’ trust by operating as a non-profit, open platform initiative, reported ‘Techcrunch’. Telegram boasts of the following features:

Speed: Telegram claims to be very fast on the basis of a decentralized infrastructure with data centers positioned around the globe to connect people to the closest possible server.

Security: One of the basic tenants behind building the app.

Cloud storage: Telegram offers free unlimited cloud storage for all Telegram messages and media.

Group chat and sharing: Telegram can form large group chats of up to 200 members.

Free and without ads: Telegram is free and intends to be that way forever.

Features like self destruct.

Do the claims hold any weight?

WhatsApp is way ahead in terms of traction and it doesn't need to worry too much about anyone else. But the reason Telegram can pose a threat is because of its track record. Telegram is founded by the people behind the most dominant social network in Russia, VK. This Facebook of Russia has 60 million users and has managed to keep Facebook out of Russia. The founders have previously seen exponential growth and know how to handle it. Telegram has a few plus points because of a strong technical foundation and the absence of a need to monetize. The app is doing the rounds and signs of shift are visible among the early adopters:

Telegram is still in its early days but it has managed to mount itself on a launch pad. We can now only wait to see how high it soars. Do you think it will overtake WhatsApp? We would like to hear your comments.

Update on February 20:

Facebook has gone on to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion ($4 billion cash+ $12 billion in FB shares+ $).

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