WhatsApp will end support for BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Android 2.2 and 2.1, and Windows Phone 7.1 mobile operating systems by the end of 2016 as the user bases for the platforms have continued to shrink.
The move, which comes as consumers have flocked instead to Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems on a majority of mobile devices in the marketplace, was announced as the WhatsApp Messenger app turned 7 years old recently, in a Feb. 26 post on the WhatsApp Blog.
"When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people's use of mobile devices looked very different from today," the post states. "The Apple App Store was only a few months old. 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."
With all of those changes, WhatsApp decided it was time to make adjustments so that it can continue to keep improving its app for the majority of its users and drop its support for older, less popular mobile platforms.
To do that, the company will be ending support for WhatsApp Messenger on BlackBerry, which will include the latest BlackBerry 10 OS; Nokia S40; Nokia Symbian S60; Android 2.1 and Android 2.2; and Windows Phone 7.1.
"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 post continued. "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."
The company recommends that WhatsApp users who want to continue to use the app make the switch to a mobile device that runs on an operating system that will be supported by the company.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for about $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in stock, according to an earlier eWEEK report. WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows users to exchange messages without having to pay separately for SMS. Santa Clara, Calif.-based WhatsApp launched in 2009 and recently reported that it has about 1 billion monthly users.
A security flaw in WhatsApp was patched in August 2015 that could have exposed a substantial number of its users to risk, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The flaw, which was discovered by security vendor Check Point, could have allowed an attacker to send a WhatsApp Web user a vCard that included malicious code. A vCard is an industry-standard format for business card information. According to Check Point, the unpatched WhatsApp Web interface enabled the malicious vCard to open on the user's device as an executable, which could have included malware.
The root cause of the reported vCard flaw was that the WhatsApp system did not properly filter input from the contact cards, the story reported. Check Point security researchers were able to intercept the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) message requests sent to the WhatsApp servers in order to manipulate the vCard files. The vulnerability affected the WhatsApp Web application that approximately 200 million of WhatsApp's 900 million customers use. The WhatsApp Web application provides an interface that runs on user devices by way of a Web browser.