Hyperbolic headlines aside, telegram is
actually quite an interesting app, especially for Ubuntu devices, and especially
1) the Telegram API is open, and 3rd party clients are encouraged, not blocked
2) it's an OTT (over the top) messaging app, which is qualitatively different than the integrated SMS on your phone
3) it has claims to strong, integrated crypto (more on this in a bit)
4) the holding company is organized as a non-profit (?? unverified) and claimed to not be for the purpose of revenue
Now, some expanded thoughts on those points above.
- a work-in-progress client is being written for Ubuntu devices, and won't be banned or blocked. This means Ubuntu device developers can control their own destiny rather than waiting for another party to make a cost/benefit analysis about the Ubuntu platform.
2) OTT clients are extremely important to most world wide users of mobile devices, with the weird exception of Americans (we still use MMS, thankyouverymuch). Having a 1st-class OTT app on Ubuntu that can interoperate with a truly large userbase (10M+ telegram users worldwide?) eliminates a large adoption barrier for much of Ubuntu's key early markets.
4) The stated intentions of the Durov brothers are quite noble, and they have walked the walk at least once so far, paying out $100K (?? not verified) to at least one developer who found a serious crypto bug in the code already. This suggests an important alignment of values between the Ubuntu community and the Telegram team.
Now, to the crypto. Some claims have been made about the crypto, notably by well-respected Moxie Marlinspike. I am not capable of evaluating the claims.
I can make the following observations though:
a) we are no worse off than the status quo, as the leader WhatsApp has no crypto at all
b) if Text Secure's protocol is as easily federated as their developers claim, then for Telegram to switch implementations at some point in the future should be a SMoP.
c) I haven't seen any public demonstrations of Telegram exploits to go along with the public claims of "snake oil". Of course, that doesn't mean governments and other alpha black hats aren't sitting on their own 0-days, but at this point, we have to assume that about all
software we use on the internet.
So maybe the Telegram crypto, isn't. But that is mistaking a single feature for the larger forest, at least in the context of Ubuntu, which is to say, an open, popular
OTT network/app on the platform.
Finally, a note regarding how sticky WhatsApp might be... I found it trivially easy to download Telegram on both my iOS and Android devices and discovered I already had some contacts on there, notably the one person I was already WhatsApp'ing the most.
And in the end, it's not about a network with 10M+ users that actually matters.
It's about your
network with the 7 or so users that you
[I've already relegated the WhatsApp icon to the ghetto of the 3rd page on iOS and removed it from my Android home screen completely. ;) ]