Facebook and WhatsApp – What’s Next?

Messaging is a basic premise of any social networking endeavor.

Right from the time Facebook was first launched, it had an inherent fundamental messaging feature that allowed people to contact each other, share important things and get in touch or catch up. With the improvement in technology and the advent of smartphones, the entire phenomenon of messaging has moved beyond what was envisaged of it. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp does not only make financial sense but it can also be used to capitalize on the fact that messaging is the ‘thing’ right now. Owning messaging has become very important and therefore Facebook simply had to buy a messaging app. With enough money in its pocket, it could afford to buy the very best.

Does Facebook Really Need Another Messaging App?

While Facebook has been a monster success, its messaging app has not been able to permeate the target groups as seamlessly as WhatsApp. The messaging app has a lot going on for it, and has a wider appeal that Facebook’s app that only lets you connect to those you are friends with on Facebook. Today WhatsApp is not only used for casual conversations, but also important business messaging, advertising, and sales. With Facebook, the limited purview that its messaging app actually had, none of that was possible. WhatsApp has a user base that is identified with working telephone numbers, whereas Facebook’s messaging app is usually not downloaded separately from the Facebook app.

Does this Signify a Shift in Social Networking Media?

Both Facebook and WhatsApp have their individual strengths, and respective user base. In fact, in some ways, both of them complement each other. What Facebook can do, in terms of sharing and constructing solid social groups, WhatsApp cannot. At its best, WhatsApp is a social networking tool on the go. Both of them are free of cost, but they both have their own unique strengths and they cannot be used interchangeably. It is the same with most of the networking media, which are doing well individually. Unless individual substitutes for these social networking media are created, like Facebook captured the user base of other social networking giants such as Orkut, Hi5 and MySpace, social networking will continue to be the way it is now.

Does the Acquisition of WhatsApp Mean Changes in the App?

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Facebook will try to get rid of WhatsApp’s Ad-free version by installing Ads in it. In the short term, it is highly unlikely that Facebook would introduce any changes to the app – including running ads on it. Facebook already has a great e-commerce monetization model that has been working great for it. And it could be used in a similar m-commerce model for WhatsApp too. However, all of this is just speculation. Unless Facebook or WhatsApp actually announce any impending changes, it would be absolutely impossible to know what their plans are. Still, commercial potential is huge with apps that have already gained the trust of users. Facebook will have to maneuver carefully to ensure that it does not lose the trust and subsequently the large user base that WhatsApp has already been able to cultivate.

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