WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the entire world, having grown its user base in massive quantities over the past seven years of its existence. The service, which was purchased by Facebook in February of 2014, reached the 1 billion user milestone earlier this month, and its development team continues to support the app with a constant stream of updates. The future also looks very bright for the WhatsApp team as their parent company begins integrating parts of the service into the Facebook app, giving the already massively popular messaging client even greater exposure to newer users.
Sadly, as popular services become older they start to outgrow some of their earlier, humbler beginnings, and the same can now be said for WhatsApp. In an official blog post, the WhatsApp team took the opportunity to inform users that they would be dropping support for a number of older platform versions. The affected platforms (as listed by WhatsApp) include Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Windows Phone 7.1, BlackBerry OS (including BlackBerry 10), Android 2.1 Eclair and Android 2.2 Froyo. Looking over the list, it’s obvious that some of these discontinuations aren’t likely to affect many users. Both Nokia operating systems have been defunct for several years now, and Microsoft abandoned support for Windows Phone 7.1 long ago. More importantly, the global market share for each of those platforms is nearly infinitesimal at this point, so the actual number of affected users isn’t likely to be high.
While the discontinuations affect a larger number of users for the remaining platforms, the numbers are still incredibly small when you break down the relevant figures. The market share for BlackBerry OS has steadily declined for several years now, and while the company still technically supports BlackBerry 10 devices, their current flagship device, the BlackBerry Priv, runs a version of Android. The stories for Eclair and Froyo are similar: Google’s most recent Android Distribution numbers placed Froyo usage at only 0.1% of the entire user base. Eclair didn’t even register, meaning that it didn’t meet the minimum requirement of 0.1% usage to even appear on the chart.
While WhatsApp’s decision is unfortunate for a number of users, it’s actually pretty remarkable that the development team supported those older platforms for as long as they did. That bodes well for individuals using more up-to-date operating systems, as they’re likely to see continued support on their current platform for years to come. WhatsApp didn’t give specific dates for the discontinuations, but they did mention that support would end “by the end of 2016”.