It has been reported that Facebook’s WhatsApp will be introducing voice and video calling to its WhatsApp Web desktop version this year.
WhatsApp, which has around 2 billion users globally, is currently used mainly for personal calls in addition to text chat, sending videos and photos. The need for businesses to enable work employees work form home plus the other COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on the wider population has given a massive boost to video conferencing / video communication platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Skype.
So far, WhatsApp has rolled out the new voice and video calls feature to some desktop users on a trial basis over the Christmas period.
The pandemic restrictions have fuelled fierce competition for market share among the big players and have led to new features being added to their respective platforms on a more regular basis. Giving voice and video calling features to WhatsApp (desktop) would, therefore, give Facebook another way to compete and grab market share, along with its newly launched desktop Messenger app for macOS and Windows which also offers free group video calls and chat.
The business video conference market is particularly important to the big tech companies and this move by WhatsApp is likely to be particularly valued by business users. WhatsApp claims to have more than 50 million more business users each month.
Zoom and Google Meet have both announced that their normal time limits on conversations are being lifted for the festive period and in the case of Google Meet, its 60-minute time limit will not apply again until the end of March.
Back in November, WhatsApp took another competitive step in the battle for market share by adding self-destruct messages as a way of integrating and improving the interoperability of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. The feature gives WhatsApp users the option to automatically delete chats between themselves and the recipient after 7 days.
Many businesses already use WhatsApp and value the fact(s) that it is free, effective, widely used by other businesses and customers, offers security thanks to end-to-end encryption, and that it allows the easy sending of videos and photos as well as instant chats. The ongoing pandemic, working from home and the danger and restrictions which, it appears, will be with us for many months yet have made the market for video conferencing highly competitive. This move by Facebook’s WhatsApp is likely, therefore, to be appealing to WhatsApp’s billions of users and particularly the millions of business users who are turning to the app each day for all manner of communications. This is likely to strengthen loyalty to WhatsApp and help Facebook to grab yet more market share.