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WhatsApp has touched the magical number of 500,000,000 active users; every day more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos are being shared over the network.

In today’s cut throat competition where new cross-platform instant messaging applications are popping up every day, getting to the top position and maintaining it, isn’t a cakewalk.

WhatsApp announced that it has reached a milestone of 500 million active users. The well-known cross-platform messaging app was launched in 2009, then continued to dominate the market, although it got new competitors, especially from China and Japan. The company, headed by CEO and co-founder Jan Koum, was recently acquired by Facebook for whopping $19 billion, but it will continue to operate as an independent body.

Koum mentioned in a blog post, “Thanks to all of you, half a billion people around the world are now regular, active WhatsApp users. In the last few months, we’ve grown fastest in countries like Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia.”

Jon Koum emphasized that these are regular and active WhatsApp users not just registered users. Every day over 60 billion messages are sent and received along with sharing 700 million photos and 100 million videos.

In late February, Mark Zuckerberg stated that their goal is to reach 1 billion users and thus 500 million represent half of it. If Whatsapp continues to grow like this, soon it will touch the golden figure of 1 billion members.

WhatsApp isn’t only widespread among younger users, but also among older people who have never used a computer or the Internet. Many grandparents come into a store and buy a smartphone to chat with their grandchildren. This has become possible by the ease with which anyone can configure the app. There is no need of user names and passwords, just a phone number.

The company is in no mood of celebrating even after reaching half a billion people. “We’re going to get our engineers together and work on probably 1,000 little bug fixes and improvements”, Jon said in an interview with Recode.

WhatsApp has signed agreements with providers to provide wireless access at low cost in order to increase the users. To reach one billion users, the company has also adopted new business strategies. In Germany, for example, SIM card with unlimited access and pre-paid credit were introduced.

WhatsApp is in direct competition with WeChat which is ruling China, Viber, Line, BBM and Telegram which has just started making some noise.

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