Why Inbox Could Topple WhatsApp’s Dominance in Mobile Messaging

October 4, 2013

10:01 am

Since its release in 2009, WhatsApp has dominated the OTT (over-the-top) mobile messaging industry both globally and within the United States. With the recent release delay of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) for iOS and Android, the (once-)popular messaging service finally attempts a comeback in the US market – but is it too litte, too late for BBM to rediscover its footing in an industry dominated by this green balloon? Is there room for new messaging apps to survive and – dare I say it – thrive? Well, based on logos alone, Inbox definitely has the potential to put a hole in WhatsApp’s control of the market (get it? Because it’s an arrow…).

Inbox is an OTT mobile messaging app that utilizes simple, beautiful design to improve the management of personal messaging. The app traces its roots to Startup Weekend – Madison, from March, where it was initially Private Chat, a private messaging app geared towards the enterprise industry.

“We needed a way to prove to the enterprise people that [a private messaging application] was a great idea. What better way than to go directly to the consumer?” says cofounder and CEO Maher Janajri.

Admittedly, even without the presence of WhatsApp, the mobile messaging space is crowded. WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Kik, Snapchat, GroupMe…there are literally hundreds of different mobile messaging apps currently available on the market – some surviving for more than a year, while most die out from a lack of user engagement. Janajri definitely acknowledges this, and says, “We know it’s a crowded space. But just because it is, we still wanted to create something that we felt was missing – an experience that we felt was missing.”

“Everyone around the world is looking for an alternative to WhatsApp. [I think] people have settled because WhatsApp has become so popular, so [they] aren’t able to really look beyond that.”


Inbox allows you to edit and send picture messages, put up a privacy screen to prevent friends from reading over your shoulder, and even delete messages from a conversation.

Inbox is definitely a different kind of messaging app, and I’m convinced that it has the potential to eventually take on WhatsApp. With the recent release of iOS 8, Inbox’s design aesthetic meshes smoothly with the clean, flat design of the new iOS. Since WhatsApp’s launch in 2009, the app itself has gone through very little design change. The utility that users get from WhatsApp aside, the messaging app is, honestly, pretty boring in terms of design.

However, even this utility is getting challenged. The features for which WhatsApp has been recognized and have allowed it to remain the top contender in the mobile messaging space, have become merely the mainstay on which newer messaging apps, like Inbox, develop innovative features. This market is ripe for change, and Inbox has the features that are currently in demand or currently lacking in the market, such as quick, picture messaging (similar to SnapChat), a privacy screen function, and the ability to delete or take back messages you’ve sent.

Unless WhatsApp moves toward innovation, Inbox will potentially take on the role of being the ideal mobile messaging app we have all been waiting for.

Inbox is currently in public beta, so try it out for yourself.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.