3 Things Facebook Can Expect From WhatsApp

Facebook shocked millions of users with its record-breaking acquisition of WhatsApp and the future of social networks now looks very different. We look at what Facebook can expect from buying WhatsApp …


1. Privacy worries

More photos are shared every day on WhatsApp than Facebook, which is partially because there are plenty of things we share privately that we wouldn’t consider posting to a public platform like a Facebook timeline. That’s a huge amount of data Facebook now has access to that it didn’t already have, which is cause for concern among many privacy-minded users.

WhatsApp doesn’t collect anywhere near as much personal information as the social network itself, so that isn’t necessarily the key issue. What is does collect is mobile phone numbers, which can be used to find out so much additional data that some users are worried. Facebook will have to work hard to reassure users about data privacy.


2. Mobile competition

WhatsApp has taken the smartphone-using world by storm for a simple reason – it allows users to send messages, including text, pictures, audio and video from a handset without having to pay for the privilege. Add in the fact that WhatsApp chief executive Jam Koum reportedly told the Mobile World Conference a few days ago that it plans to add free voice calls this year, and it’s understandable that the acquisition has got networks spooked.

Mobile operators now have to come to terms with the fact that one of their biggest content partners is on its way to owning not only some of the most popular apps the networks support, but possibly their biggest competition. It’s likely they’ll be pulling out all the stops to try and offer something new.


3. Not a lot of money – for now

Strange as it may seem WhatsApp wasn’t bought for huge financial gains – at least, not immediately.

At the moment, the app works on a business model of charging $1 a year after 12 months of free trial, and that really sums up the approach taken by many tech firms. Attract the users first, and let the revenue follow. As with Instagram, which is still growing but is still a long way from being monetised, Facebook has used its considerable buying power to rein in a potential rival and give them plenty of support to grow for a few more years.

As entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky blogged, “Facebook bought a network that was a real threat to its existence, that is growing much faster than itself (growth drives valuations) and has almost half as many members already, for only 10 per cent of its value. And it prevented it from going to Google.”


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