Facebook’s (FB) WhatsApp messaging app has stopped working on all Windows phones. WhatsApp’s support for Windows phones ended on December 31. WhatsApp also plans to stop working on handsets running certain versions of Google’s (GOOGL) Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems.
WhatsApp ditches Windows after Microsoft moved to Android
WhatsApp’s conclusion that Windows phones are no longer worth supporting comes a few months after Windows maker Microsoft (MSFT) made a big shift from the software. In October, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Duo, a dual-screen, foldable smartphone set to go on sale later this year, in time for the 2020 holiday season. Microsoft’s Surface Duo will run Google’s Android, not Windows.
Microsoft’s shift to Android follows its failed bid to popularize Windows phones through its purchase of Nokia’s phone business. Microsoft spent more than $7.0 billion to acquire the business, but it ended up writing down that investment less than two years later.
Windows phone world is shrinking
WhatsApp’s decision to drop Windows phones comes as the Windows world is shrinking. Windows held only 0.13% of the global mobile operating system market in December, according to StatCounter data, making it the least popular among the ranked operating systems. Google’s Android dominated the mobile operating system space with a 74% share. Apple’s iOS held 25% of the market.
WhatsApp aiming higher in 2020
WhatsApp, one of Facebook’s star social apps, boasts more than 1.5 billion users around the world. Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion six years ago. Facebook plans to begin monetizing WhatsApp this year. For instance, a WhatsApp payment service is expected to launch in India anytime, and Facebook plans to open the WhatsApp platform to advertisers this year.
Facebook counts on WhatsApp to defend its advertising turf
The digital advertising market has continued to swell. According to eMarketer, global digital ad spending will rise to $385 billion in 2020 from $283 billion in 2018. Facebook is one of the top players in the global digital advertising space. However, it is facing growing competition that threatens to shrink its market share. The company may be hoping that bringing WhatsApp to the advertising battlefield could help defend its turf in the market. WhatsApp’s move to drop Windows just as it’s planning to go big on monetization shows it thinks that action will not derail its efforts.