Malawians who use BlackBerrys and low-end Nokia phones will have to budget for a new phone if they want to continue using popular messaging app WhatsApp as the company has revealed that it will stop supporting the old phones by the end of this year.
The company says it will end support for BlackBerry (including BlackBerry 10), Nokia S40, and Nokia Symbian S60 by the end of this year. Additionally, WhatsApp will no longer support Android 2.1 and 2.2 or Windows Phone 7.1.
The news comes at a time when Android and Apple’s iOS are dominating the smartphone market while Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile are still clinging on.
The Facebook-owned company recently celebrated its seventh anniversary and also announced that it has passed one billion monthly active users.
“When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people’s use of mobile devices looked very different from today.
“About 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia. Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft – which account for 99.5 percent of sales today – were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold at the time. As we look ahead to our next seven years, we want to focus our efforts on the mobile platforms the vast majority of people use,” the company said.
WhatsApp’s decision will disappoint some users in developing markets including Malawi where a lot of people use Nokia’s older phones because they are cheaper than iPhones, modern Android smartphones or phones with Windows 8.1
The messaging app has evolved since its inception as it now offers voice calls, and video calls are reportedly being added too. As a result, the company believes that the older phones will not be able to support the new Whatsapp features.
“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,” the announcement explained. “This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.”