đŸ“ŗ Introduction to WhatsApp

On this page, you learn about the history of WhatsApp, the number of people using it and its products in general.

How did it begin?

WhatsApp started as a messaging app for personal communications in 2009 and soon gained popularity worldwide. Today, it has over 2 billion monthly active users. That is over a quarter of the world’s population! In fact, it is the messaging app people use in regions such as the Middle East, South America, some parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Today, the WhatsApp app that’s used for personal communications is officially called WhatsApp Messenger app.

Due to its popularity and that more and more customers prefer to talk to businesses the way they do with family and friends, WhatsApp launched its first business product in 2018, The WhatsApp Business app. It was launched to help micro-businesses manage their customer communications and has a few extra features compared to WhatsApp Messenger app, such as a product catalog and saved replies. Later that year, it launched the WhatsApp Business API (WhatsApp on-premises API) to help small businesses to enterprises communicate with their customers at scale. The latest product of WhatsApp is the WhatsApp Cloud API, launched in 2022, and is aimed at the same businesses as the WhatsApp Business API. There is a third API, called WhatsApp Management API but we do not cover that in this book as it is not tailored for businesses wanting to use WhatsApp for customer communications.

In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp, and currently, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are all under Meta as their parent company. This has made synching the three platforms together easy. For example, a business can run ads on Instagram or Facebook with click-to-WhatsApp buttons that let customers talk to the business on WhatsApp.

Let’s get the terminologies right!

You might read “WhatsApp for Business” or “WhatsApp API” in other sources on the internet. These are not the official terminologies that WhatsApp uses to refer to its products. If you read somewhere on the internet “WhatsApp API”, you need to clarify which API. Officially, WhatsApp Business is the umbrella of all of WhatsApp’s products aimed for businesses; WhatsApp Business App, WhatsApp Business API (WhatsApp on-premises API), WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp Management API. The three APIs together are called WhatsApp Business Platform.

In this book, we only use WhatsApp’s official terminologies. WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp on-premises API are two official names for the same API. For simplicity, we use WhatsApp Business API throughout this book to talk about it.