John Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, on Tuesday mocked Apple for “borrowing” features from his chat app. Koum tweeted his views several hours after Apple unveiled a revamped iMessage app for iPhones.
The new iMessage allows users to send audio files, share location or hold group chats. WhatsApp, a wildly popular instant messaging app, already offers these features. Unlike iMessage, which is limited to Apple devices, WhatsApp is available for all popular mobile platforms, including Windows Phone and BlackBery 10.
“Very flattering to see Apple ‘borrow’ numerous WhatsApp features into iMessage in iOS 8 #innovation,” tweeted Koum. The tweet obviously struck a chord among Koum’s Twitter followers. Within hours, it was retweeted by over 1000 times.
While it is true that Apple seemingly copied a number of features from WhatsApp (or for that matter a similar app like Line or WeChat) it is possible that Koum’s comment is sparked by Apple’s subtle “attack” on its developers. Apple often introduces new features in its first-party apps like Message or Mail which are similar to functionality offered by some third-party apps.
This puts pressure on third-party apps because once Apple has assimilated a popular feature in the native app, users tend to ignore third-party apps that offer similar functionality. Last year, when Apple released iOS 7 it added a feature to the Photo app, allowing users to sort photos on the basis of location and date. Photoworks, a third-party app, too offered same functionality. In response, app developer Stephen Orth tweeted, “I guess my new app just got sherlocked.”
The term “sherlocked” was a reference to 2003 when Apple released Sherlock software for Mac and made several third-party search apps irrelevant.
WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook in February for a whopping $19 billion, has over 500 million active users.