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WhatsApp, the multiplatform messaging app that has taken the world by storm, has been in talks with Facebook, and when Facebook is in talks with a company the likely outcome is that it wants to buy. Whether such a move would be good or bad is debatable. After its own messaging app was a bit of a flop, an acquisition like this would give Facebook a dominating platform.
But is it a good or bad idea? That’s very debatable. It would certainly give Zuckerberg’s baby a massive boost (does it still need more?) as it will then have a very big gun in its arsenal. Yet there is one area where the two companies are at different ends of the scale, even though they are both dominant social players: advertising. Facebook lives on advertising. WhatsApp does not.
WhatsApp has always been highly anti advertising, focused on giving users a service that would save them money, not get money from them. As co-founder Jan Koum says on its blog: “We wanted to spend our time building a service people wanted to use because it worked and saved them money and made their lives better in a small way. Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.”
Facebook on the other hand, is advertising intensive and runs at a 1 000 miles per hour on that. Without advertising Zuckerberg would not be where he is now. But that is not all…
Facebook’s messaging app was centred on its subscribers and that would be one of the main reasons it hasn’t been a runaway success. WhatsApp is completely global, no matter where you are from or what social networking site you are on. That was the main reason for its success. EVERYBODY in the world could communicate with each other completely free without the intrusion of adverts and pop-ups. The biggest question is what would WhatsApp be like with ads? Think about it…
Then again Facebook is a big money business, and every minute a person spends on WhatsApp is a minute not spent on Facebook. Acquiring WhatsApp would not be just another egg in the basket. It would be an entire chicken farm.
On a financial point, it might be more profitable for Facebook to purchase a start-up in the same area. Even though WhatsApp is huge, it is actually in a market that is filled with thousands of other competitors like WeChat and Kakao Talk. Even though WhatsApp refuses to release figures on its usage and downloads, these two apps have passed certain milestones long before WhatsApp ever did and are bigger in certain countries.