Facebook’s Takeover of WhatsApp: What It Means for App Makers Thinking of Making Messaging Apps

Facebook has recently acquired messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion dollars, $16 billion in cash and stock and $3 billion for its fifty-five employees. Developed almost entirely in Russia by two former engineers from Yahoo! the 450 million strong user base pays only $0.99 yearly for the service provided. While Facebook earns billions of dollars in revenue and profits each year, the buying up of WhatsApp makes us ask some interesting questions including what really is that made Facebook invest such a huge amount of money for buying the messaging app and prefer it over others.

What Makes WhatsApp So Popular?
WhatsApp allows users to send each other images, video and audio messages and their current location via its mapping feature, and it doesn’t require the user to setup a new username, relying on just the phone number. The greatest advantage is that there are no ads for other services because of the rather nominal fee the user has to pay to use it.

How Does The Acquisition Affect Other Messaging Apps?
Ever since the acquisition took place, WhatsApp users have moved on to using other messaging services, a few of them believing that because of the acquisition WhatsApp would now become flooded with ads. “LINE”, a free messaging app which is very popular in Japan and Southeast Asia with around 300 million monthly users, saw a rise with 2 million new users. “Telegram”, created by Pavel Durov, who also created “VK”, Russia’s most popular social networking site, saw a boost with 8 million users.

What Does The Acquisition Mean For Users?
Since a large part of WhatsApp’s popularity is because of its “no ads, no games, no gimmicks” policy. Now if Facebook honors WhatsApp’s commitment to its users, then marketers will not be able to gain anything from the acquisition. However, that remains to be seen, as these are early days.

What about App Makers?
App makers who are thinking of making messaging apps will have to be cautious, for the time being. App stores make and break fortunes easily. Flappy Bird rose to such prominence in such a short time that it spawned countless number of clones, and even after it was taken down there have been people trying to keep it alive and bring it back.

All of this proves that app users are very passionate about the products they use and come to love. Even if a new messaging app is made that is as popular as WhatsApp, even a small business decision will see users moving lock, stock and barrel to using other apps which provide similar services. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, Already almost half-a-billion people love using WhatsApp for messaging and it’s the most engaging app we’ve ever seen exist on mobile by far.”


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