WhatsApp logo is displayed on a smartphone. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The majority of mobile users in the UAE may not have to worry about WhatsApp's decision to phase out support for some platforms, but a small number of residents may find the need to upgrade to a newer handset soon.

The Facebook-owned instant messaging app has confirmed that effective December 31, 2017, support for older versions of Blackberry and Windows-powered phones will be phased out.

Those who will be affected are users of BlackBerry phones running on BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10, and handsets that are still operating on Windows Phone 7.

“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,” WhatsApp said

However, considering the market size of such phones in the UAE, it looks like the plan to disable WhatsApp on select devices won’t have any huge impact in the UAE.

According to Nabila Popal, senior research manager at IDC for mobile phones, Middle East and Africa, BlackBerry holds a very small share of the smartphone market in the country, at only under three per cent. The figure is based on quarterly mobile phone shipments into the country.

Figures based on handsets registered on the country’s mobile networks also indicate a similar trend. 

BlackBerry’s market share in the UAE has been on a decline. As of 2016, BlackBerry was the fourth-most popular handset after Samsung, Nokia and Apple, based on units registered on UAE networks.

During the second quarter of 2017, however, the American brand slipped off the rankings.

5 most popular phone brands in UAE, Q2 2017

1. Samsung
2. Nokia
3. Apple
4. Lenovo
5. Huawei

According to a report by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), 34.5 per cent of all handsets registered on the local networks as of June this year were manufactured by Samsung.

Nokia phones were the second most popular, with a share of 22.9 per cent, while Apple emerged in the third spot, with a presence of 15.5 per cent. This was followed by Lenovo, with 5.4 per cent, and then Huawei, with 3.2 per cent.

Nokia users, however, have  been advised that by December 31 next year, WhatsApp will also stop working on S40 devices, while Android versions 2.3.7 and older will not have the messaging app after 1 February 2020.

WhatsApp recommended that those who will be affected by the discontinued service are better off upgrading to a newer handset, to continue using the messaging tool.