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How Facebook is grinding its mobile app rivals into dust

Published Mar 7th, 2014 4:25PM EST
Facebook Apps Instagram WhatsApp FB Messenger

Yahoo keeps grimly churning through acquisitions; buying and shutting down small tech firms with mechanical fervor. Facebook is buying far bigger, far more expensive companies and with fairly stunning results. Instagram is the most dazzling example.

Facebook bought it less than two years ago and turned it into a Vine-killer last summer, copying the most popular micro-video features of Vine and adding some cool new twists such as like longer clips. Last spring, Vine was the No. 1 iPhone app in America. Today, it is struggling to remain in the top 40. Instagram is the No. 9 app right now, just one peg below Snapchat. Under Facebook’s wings, it was able to crush Vine in new customer adds, while fending off Snapchat’s challenge fairly effectively.

The latest Facebook acquisition, WhatsApp, is the No. 20 download in America right now. That’s up from No. 40, where it was before the Facebook buy. Consumers in Europe and Latin America may have suspicions about the Facebook-WhatsApp combo, but Americans love it.

As a result, Facebook now has four monster hits in the iPhone download list: Instagram at No. 9, Facebook at No. 11, WhatsApp at No. 20 and Facebook Messenger at No. 21. This is stunning. It shows how Facebook did not even need to spend $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp — it already had a super strong stable  of messaging/social network apps of its own.

Now Facebook’s app champs effectively form the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that haunt the dreams of Google, Twitter and Microsoft executives. What other tech giant can challenge the supremacy of this app quartet?

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.