A definite moment of High for the 32-member Engineer team of Whatsapp was being acquired by Facebook for a whooping USD 19 Billion.
Whatsapp has been a significant development in the world of mobile applications and it changed the landscape for telcos globally and the way these telecommunication companies would do business in the future.
Whatsapp, A mobile messaging application originated in USA, was not a popular medium of communication for the people in States (and not many people had even heard of the name “Whatsapp” till it was bought by Facebook for a record USD 19 Billion- a cost to which many experts doubts of Facebook’s Decision to buy it, which is a separate post). USA is a technologically colourful nation and already has had a lot of options of communication like Facetime (as US has a record number of iOS users) , Kik, Snapchat and also has had a dense penetration of Facebook and Twitter. So, when in the year 2009 Whatsapp came into existence it was not THE choice. However, it was an instant hit with European countries and had the highest penetration in Brazil and India which was simultaneously going through another revolution of a kind with smartphone sales breaking all previous records. And are cost sensitive markets.
It is important that we understand why Whatsapp became a rage (if I may use that word) in a lot of countries.
– An obvious reason for its success has been Whataspp being cross-platform and its ability to send messages to other users globally free of cost.
– When compared to other apps: A technical reason is that Whatsapp has least number of shortcomings in comparison to other options available : Facebook Messenger means that the two people need to be connected as Friends on a social network site which in turn means disclosing a lot of personal information to a stranger to which we are not always comfortable and have our own apprehensions.
Viber, though a good option but never really became as famous and popular as Whatsapp because Viber’s interface was not as smooth as Whataspp and also the size of the emoticons and stickers was bigger than whatsapp which meant the mobile data would be drained real quick. (This is an important factor in the success of a mobile messaging app specially in rising markets which are mobile data cost sensitive)
– Whatsapp communication means users do not have to share any personal information with the other person besides contact number and always have the flexibility to ignore or just get rid of the person.
– Facebook’s Acquisition of Whatsapp helped to gain more visibility: After being acquired by Facebook it became famous amongst people who did not know of the messaging service specially in US.
–Europe is a land locked continent and Europeans are a breed of people who travel a lot and for longer periods, and cost of sending a message and voice call for international destinations is quite a lot. For example, the cost of a SMS in Germany is Euro 0.15 (which is a lot). So they needed a platform which was not just cross platform but used cross country as well, and this became a reason for people to look for messaging apps like Whatsapp and Viber.
– Another personal observation as a coder of mobile application has been that if you launch a social application and it has gained a certain number of users, then those users in turn get you more users.
How to cash-in on the addiction to Whatsapp ?
In my last article I pointed to a few ways in which you can monetize your time on Internet. Likewise, the time on whatsapp could be monetized as well.
I thought to write about this section of Monetization after a cousin of a friend of mine told of a way she is earning money from it.
– If you are good at people skills and are a social person who has a lot of contacts in your Mobile Phone, then creating a group and posting a few Images of the products along with its price earn you a few extra bucks regularly and you would not be really spending even a single penny in creating any kind of an online store. It could also be a possible test ground to find out if the products you plan to sell would click with the people or not. And if it does you can always move to creating a store for you on the web.
– An age old method of finding prospective clients has been cold calling, some of the renowned and famous Marketing and Business Development People have done this at some stage of their career to have a collection base of a few people who they can always approach to sell a product or a service. And with a lot of regulations in place in telecom like Do Not Disturb (for which sometimes people sue you to have called them ) it becomes difficult to find prospective clients and also you can reach a limited people. Likewise has been Bulk Email Marketing, which is again a saturated way.
Whatsapp does not have any internet or self imposed regulation till date. And you can always reach international and domestic prospects with a nicely drafted proposal.
Though it runs a higher risk of being blocked but chances of finding some prospective clients also run high as your messages would reach the users for sure and almost most times it would be seen and read. So, its all about being creative enough to get their attention.
How would Whatsapp be of use to Facebook
Whatsapp managed half the number of users as FB (450 million users with Whatsapp) in a short of time of 5 years and was rising. Facebook ran the risk of loosing to a rising platform which could be an alternative to FB should people start looking for alternatives. So like Instagram, where people had started to gravitate to image sharing and with one add-on feature of chat it could dethrone FB, so could whatsapp with some smart and creative features. Facebook ended buying both for USD 1 Billion for Instagram and USD 19 Billion for Whatsapp.
The initial relevance of Whatsapp to Facebook was to not loose its users to a competitor. Later they made Whatsapp a free application.
A big question: How would Facebook Monetize this Application for which they have spend a magnum opus 19 Billion.
– Based on a few reports and analysis: A corporate package of the application which would have some add on feature and a control button for the employer.
– Sponsored Messages: This could be something like a Sponsored ad on Instagram.
– A Hidden Way: Data Analysis and usage patterns of the users of the application would be used to send them some targeted Links/Messages/ads or maybe selling the data to some product and service companies.
– In Depth Integration with Facebook: Posts and articles and images can now be shared on whatsapp like on Facbeook, Hangout, and other social application. There were images circulated on the internet to show a dedicated option of Whatsapp share on every share on Facebook.
– Killing Whatsapp: Facebook Messenger is being tweaked in a way to be another great messaging system which would be an alternative for people who want to opt for a better solution with some new creative features. And with the analysis and usage pattern study of Whatsapp users it would only help in improvisation of Facebook Messenger.
This also mean that Facebook might do to Whatsapp what it did to “Parse Solution” which is to buy it and after a while just close it down.
Readers Take Home
Anyone with an idea and hard-work stands a chance to become a rival to biggies like Facebook in a very small time. So do not stop dreaming big and continue to work on your dream ideas.
Technology presents everyone with an equal opportunity to become big by changing lives of the masses.
Who knows one day you might end up shadowing Facebook or Google or maybe become another Apple of the world or least of all frighten them and earn some few hundred Billion dollars and work on another dream.
Thank You for reading.