WhatsApp will stop working on the last day of the decade on hundreds of thousands of smartphones owned by Brits as it withdraws support for handsets less than five years old.
The Facebook-owned messaging service, one of the world’s most popular messaging apps with 1.5 billion users, will pull its support from Windows phones on December 31st, as it no longer develops for the operating system.
According to the British publication, The Telegraph, the shutdown will affect Nokia Lumia devices, the last to use the Microsoft-made Windows operating system. Devices such as the Nokia Lumia 650 were released just four years ago and were still being sold in 2017.
The move will also affect older iPhone devices running iOS 8 from February next year, as well as Android users with software versions 2.3.7 or older.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp warned that users running the app on a Windows phone may see some features that “might stop functioning at any time”. The app has not been available to download from the Microsoft store for some users since July 1st.
Microsoft discontinued the development of its Windows Phone operating system in 2017, ending its push into smartphones after a botched deal to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business in 2011.
However, between 0.3pc and 0.7pc of all British smartphone users are still estimated to use Windows the system. There are around 54m smartphone users in the UK according to analyst firm Newzoo.
WhatsApp said: “This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch.”
The move from WhatsApp to withdraw support from the phones comes at a time when people are holding onto their phones for longer. On average, British smartphone users hold onto their device for 28 months.
Figures from research firm Gartner in September highlighted a sharp decline in smartphone sales in 2019, falling 3.2pc to 1.74bn sales from 1.81bn in 2018 as people are showing signs of reluctance to upgrade after a standard two-year contract is done.
Owners of smart devices face an increasing number of gadgets becoming obsolete just a few years after they buy them. Earlier this month, Netflix and BBC iPlayer both stopped supporting older Samsung smart TVs due to “technical limitations”.
WhatsApp already pulled the plug on its support for older Windows Phones in 2018, as well as the BlackBerry operating system.