Facebook’s stunning $16 billion purchase of WhatsApp is both good news and bad news for BlackBerry. On the good news side, it means that the company’s popular BlackBerry Messenger service suddenly looks a lot more valuable than what many people had once thought — this explains why BlackBerry shares are trading significantly higher on the day after the Facebook-WhatsApp announcement. More →
WhatsApp’s global success has been nothing short of epic, of course, By now, the app is hitting 450 million monthly active users. It’s a reach that nobody thought a sleek and simple text messaging app could ever achieve. But there is a problem with the messaging app market in general and all leading apps share the same core weakness. Consumers are really, really fickle in this particular product segment. This is not a market where one behemoth like Facebook can waltz in and simply displace its rivals. This is a market where even an 80% share of smartphone users offers no protection. More →
Why did Facebook just buy WhatsApp for $16 billion? Probably because if it didn’t, Google would have picked up the popular mobile messaging app for $10 billion. Two unnamed sources tell Fortune that Google reportedly made a $10 billion offer to buy WhatsApp that was apparently turned down in favor of Facebook’s much larger offer. In addition to offering less cash, Google also reportedly didn’t offer WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum a seat on its board of directors as Facebook did. More →
When WhatsApp launched in 2009, no one predicted that it would grow to be a multibillion-dollar company. However, Facebook on Wednesday said that it planned to buy the hugely popular social messaging app for a stunning $16 billion. In its official announcement, Facebook says that it will pay $4 billion in cash for WhatsApp plus $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. Facebook also says that “the agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing.”
Japanese internet powerhouse Rakuten announced that it acquired Viber for $900 million. Viber has 300 million registered users and is known for its strength in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. The acquisition will no doubt reignite speculation about other mid-tier messaging apps. Behind the powerhouses like WhatsApp and LINE there is a cluster of messaging apps with strong growth and more than 100 million registered users – including two hailing from the picturesque hamlet of Waterloo, Ontario. Both Kik and BBM are on their way to hitting 150 million registered users by the end of 2014. And both have intriguing regional strengths that might make them as valuable — or even more valuable — than Viber. More →
The number of daily SMS messages exchanged globally is tough to measure but by some estimates, it may have just been surpassed by the number of WhatsApp message exchanged each day. While speaking on stage during the DLD conference in Germany, WhatsApp CEO confirmed that his cross-platform mobile messaging service now processes more than 50 billion total messages each day. That figure includes 36 billion outbound messages and 18 billion inbound messages. As noted by mobile analyst Benedict Evans, that figure may have surpassed global SMS volumes according to some estimates. Koum also noted that WhatsApp is now home to more than 430 million monthly active users, making it the most popular mobile messaging service in the world by a staggering margin.
Just days ago, WhatsApp announced it had hit 400 million monthly active users globally — a phenomenal achievement. But in the fickle and trendsetting U.S. app market, Apple’s app store shows just how much WhatsApp’s grip on American consumers has weakened. The period right after Christmas is closely followed by the app industry. These are the days when a flood of new iPhones are being activated, many by teenagers getting their first smartphone. The current trends reflect the priorities of a new generation of smartphone owners. More →
WhatsApp just hit a major milestone: 400 million monthly active users for its sleek, streamlined cross-platform messaging service. Most companies would be euphoric about this achievement. But WhatsApp has an ax to grind. The third sentence in the blog post announcing the massive achievement takes a seriously cranky tone: “We bet that if our team of engineers could make messaging fast, simple, and personal, we could charge people directly for the service without having to rely on annoying banner ads, game promotions, or all those other distracting ‘features’ that come with many messaging apps.” More →
A new report by On Device Research hammers in the challenge Facebook is facing right now. Confirming other reports on the topic, ODR finds that Facebook usage is heaviest among users aged 51 years and older. In sharp contrast, WhatsApp usage peaks among the 25-39 year olds. In the 16-24 year old bracket, the percentage of Americans using Facebook on a weekly basis outpaces WhatsApp users by the slimmest of margins at 40% to 37%. But the most interesting finding in the ODR report concerns the surprisingly small overlap between Facebook and WhatsApp users. More →
A day after BlackBerry finally managed to push its BBM for Android and BBM for iPhone apps out the door, WhatsApp fired a warning shot to remind the struggling smartphone vendor of what it’s up against. BlackBerry touted on its BBM Twitter account that it activated more than 5 million new BBM users on Android and the iPhone in less than 8 hours, which is certainly an impressive feat. WhatsApp, however, now has 350 million monthly active users. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum made the announcement on stage during a keynote presentation at the Nokia World 2013 conference, and that figure is up substantially from the 300 million monthly active users WhatsApp had just over two months ago in August. As the cross-platform mobile messaging market becomes increasingly crowded, WhatsApp is showing no signs of slowing down despite its refusal to embrace the new revenue channels being exploited by rivals, such as mobile payments and gaming platforms.
Even as rival messaging apps such as WeChat, LINE, Kik and Tango have made progress in various markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia, it has seemed that WhatsApp has retained an iron grip on the United States market. It may be below Facebook, Twitter and Vine on the iOS download chart, but it still ranks above Kik, Viber and Facebook Messenger. LINE popped up the U.S. download rankings briefly a while ago, backed by a massive marketing push, but it fell down quickly after the ad spend ended. More →
On Tuesday night, WhatsApp announced the addition of voice messaging to its service. In some ways, this news only underlined just how narrow the feature palette of the world’s leading messaging app has started to look. Other messaging apps have expanded functionality at a giddy pace recently. LINE and KakaoTalk have turned into game and publishing platforms, WeChat is morphing into a payment service and Kik has jumped on the sticker bandwagon. Amidst this Carnival, WhatsApp has remained resolutely chaste, focusing tightly on texting and photo-sharing. This pared down formula has worked well in the sense that the app has a massive lead in active user base in most countries in the world. But here’s the rub: WhatsApp is behind in several top app markets. More →
The triumph LINE has had with translating expensive TV campaigns into breakthrough success in three key markets — Japan, Spain and now India — has been a warning shot for other messaging apps. The era of viral success that defined the WhatsApp narrative may be drawing to an end. From now on, messaging app vendors are likely to be forced into an expensive and escalating marketing wars that span dozens of countries. More →