HYDERABAD: Internet product companies like Google, Facebook and WhatsApp find it difficult to succeed in select Asian markets due to cultural differences, Neeraj Arora, Vice-President, WhatsApp, believes. However, he doesn’t put India in this ‘select’ club and neither does he foresee his company dishing out ‘tailor-made’ products to suit a country’s specific requirements.
“A slew of internet mobile products companies that have scaled up products globally like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp...they all find it a little difficult to succeed in markets like China, Japan and Korea as the latter have different cultures,” he said.
He was speaking at an interactive session with students of the Indian School of Business (ISB) here Tuesday. Arora thinks these countries have specific nuances, quite different from the West or Europe or for that matter, even India.
Giving a peek into the philosophy of WhatsApp - which has over 70 million users in India - Arora, an alumnus of the ISB himself, asserted, “We always wanted to build a product that works for everyone and if it doesn’t work in two or three countries, we are fine and hopefully, we will become popular in those countries, but changing the products to tailor-made is not something we will do.”
He is optimistic about the Indian market and thinks it has ‘tremendous scope’ for successful technology startups. But, he is of the view that the government should do its bit to facilitate entrepreneurship for the ecosystem to flourish.
He also proudly pointed at the fact that the coming together of a social media platform like WhatsApp and telcos was helping telecom companies drive growth.
“For carriers, it’s a great way of moving away from traditional voice and SMS services as more data usage gives carriers more money,” he said adding the company had tied up with five telecom service providers in the country.
According to Arora, WhatsApp did not charge $1 fee in India unlike in the West as the country had low internet and mobile penetration. “Five years back, India didn’t have domestic demand market as there were not enough mobiles and internet usage was low. Now, we are sitting on a huge market as a lot of people are online,” he explained.
So, will we have to pay some nominal something to use WhatsApp in future? Arora hinted the company has no such plans. He reiterated that the company will continue to stay away from even advertisements and sponsorships.