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posted by Dopefish on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the when-will-this-darn-bubble-pop-already? dept.

lubricus writes "Facebook announced plans to acquire WhatsApp for four billion cash, plus 12 billion in Facebook shares.

Additionally, WhatsApp employees and founders will receive three billion in restricted stock which will vest in four years. Facebook also agreed to a one billion dollar break up fee.

WhatsApp says they have message volume which approaches the global SMS volume, and hope to have one billion users. Even at those figures, Facebook is paying $16 per user.

I'm guessing WhatsApp will send Snapchat developers a cake."

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State of the Site: 02/23/2014 108 comments
Well, we've survived our first week as a functional website, and have yet to go belly up because of it. The speed and growth of our community is staggering to say the least, and we are working hard to get this site fully operational. I'm pleased to announce that a development VM is now available for public consumption, and if you're interested in site development, one should join us in #dev on irc.soylentnews.org. Beyond that though, I've got a few points to address on and updated statistics to share ...
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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Litron286 on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:03AM

    by Litron286 (2272) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:03AM (#3276)

    Well, I guess that is it....

    Can anyone suggest any good alternatives?

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Kelerei on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:15AM

      by Kelerei (1272) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:15AM (#3281)
      • Telegram [telegram.org] seems to be a decent alternative especially from the privacy point of view.
      • Viber [viber.com] and Voxer [voxer.com] have also come up in discussions I've had, but I'm not sure who their corporate overlords are.
      • Of course, there's good old-fashioned SMS/MMS.

      To be avoided: WeChat (part of Tencent/Naspers), Hangouts (Google), BBM (Blackberry), ChatOn (Samsung), Skype (Microsoft). Say no to their corporate overlords, and yes to privacy and freedom.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by deif on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:20AM

        by deif (92) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:20AM (#3349)

        Unfortunately Telegram doesn't have clients for Symbian, Blackberry or Windows Phone, and from what I've heard the have no plans to support those platforms.

        There are still a significant ammount of users of those platforms around (specially in countries outside the US).
        I myself still use a Symbian phone. I can't justify spending money to a new phone when this one still works fine. I even write programs for it with Qt (for personal use).

        Here in Spain many people is increasingly being aware of Telegram, but many end uninstalling it cause they can't communicate with some of their contacts (some even say about 1/3 of their contacts use something else than iOS or Andriod).

        --
        ∀(x, y ∈ A ∪ B; x ≠ y) x² - y² ≥ 0
        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by epl on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:26PM

          by epl (1801) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:26PM (#3378)

          Not to be "that guy", but I'm still going to say it. If you write QT apps for your phone, you could try your hand at writing a client, they do have an API. I can understand them not wanting to write apps for devices that haven't been made for years, but they do offer you the chance to roll something yourself if you are so inclined and someone already has for WP.

          It's obviously going to be your choice if you find it worth your effort or would prefer to find a service that already caters to your existing ecosystem.

          • (Score: 2, Funny) by dotdotdot on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:29PM

            by dotdotdot (858) on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:29PM (#3501)

            Wow! Two mentions of Windows Phone and no mindless, knee-jerk comments bashing it? I'm liking my Soylent more and more everyday.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by tomtomtom on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:32AM

        by tomtomtom (340) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:32AM (#3357)

        There was an interesting discussion [ycombinator.com] a while back on HN about Telegram. I'm not sure I'd trust it so much. TextSecure [whispersystems.org] seems better, is fully open source (including the server) and e.g. seems to care about issues like "how do I make sure that the TextSecure server doesn't need to know ALL my contacts". No iOS app just yet though.

        • (Score: 1) by omoc on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:56PM

          by omoc (39) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:56PM (#3396)

          IIRC whispersystems was acquired by twitter? I haven't followed them after that

          • (Score: 1) by song-of-the-pogo on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:57PM

            by song-of-the-pogo (1315) on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:57PM (#3600) Homepage Journal

            Yes, apparently they were acquired by Twitter on Nov. 28, 2011. It would appear that they open-sourced their software not long after their Twitter acquisition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisper_Systems [wikipedia.org]

            Regarding WhatsApp: I tried it quite some time ago, but never made regular use of it and haven't touched it in a couple of years. Even though I don't use it I am disappointed about the Facebook purchase. I'm tired of seeing service after service get absorbed, amoeba-fashion, by large players like Facebook, Google and Twitter. Furthermore, as I have no interest in ever joining Facebook and, in fact, would like to stay as far away from it as I reasonably can, I'm a little worried about my old, dangling WhatsApp account and am wondering what Facebook will glean from it. I suppose I should've made a more conscientious effort to clean up after myself.

            --
            "We have met the enemy and he is us."
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by jaap.h on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:28PM

        by jaap.h (1773) on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:28PM (#3554)

        If you are considering using telegram (I've never used it myself), you should be aware that there are some potential issues:

        https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6913456 [ycombinator.com] and
        http://www.thoughtcrime.org/blog/telegram-crypto-c hallenge/ [thoughtcrime.org]

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by drgibbon on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:23AM

      by drgibbon (74) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:23AM (#3283) Journal

      Any public XMPP service (list here [xmpp.net], or here [jabber.at]).

      As for clients;
      ChatSecure on Android [guardianproject.info]
      ChatSecure on iPhone/iPad [chatsecure.org]
      Jitsi [jitsi.org] for desktop.

      They all support OTR, and Jitsi has ZRTP for voice/video calling.

      --
      Certified Soylent Fresh!
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by gallondr00nk on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:39AM

        by gallondr00nk (392) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:39AM (#3319)

        There's also Freetalk (console) and Psi, though the latter misses OTR. Psi-plus is the latter with OTR support and Jingle (audio/video), though I havn't tried it (the AUR version is broken).

        I love XMPP and would love to see it get more traction. It's frustrating that both WhatsApp and Kik both use the protocol but have butchered it so it isn't compatible with other servers.

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by linsane on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:24AM

      by linsane (633) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:24AM (#3284)

      First roflmao for me here, thank you and I will send over the bill for the damage to my phone for the coffee i just spat on it.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:28AM (#3288)

      What do you need it for? Honest question; I somehow seem to have survived without even getting to know what it does.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by blackest_k on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:49AM

        by blackest_k (2045) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:49AM (#3326)

        basically its a free alternative to instant messaging, very popular with young teens who often have smart phones handed down by their parents, wifi access, and not necessarily even a sim card.

        Facebook isn't so popular these days with teens thanks to facebook recording everything forever, something facebook is quite aware of.

        It's likely facebook have just killed whatsapp as they are likely to start data mining it just like facebook. I don't know if facebook now has access to whatsapp user data from before they bought the company at that price probably yes.

        It's likely that whatsapp is now going to lose users because of this buyout snapchat or something similar may see an increase in users.

        Teens are fairly smart, they value privacy, especially from their parents.
         

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ticho on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:29AM

          by ticho (89) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:29AM (#3356) Homepage Journal

          And what exactly is wrong with ol' Jabber? I just don't get today's netizens.

          • (Score: 1) by FatPhil on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:42PM

            by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:42PM (#3388) Homepage

            What's exactly wrong with good old IRC? Works as well today as it did when I first used it in 1993.

            --
            Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
            • (Score: 4, Informative) by ticho on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:21PM

              by ticho (89) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:21PM (#3446) Homepage Journal

              As much as I love IRC, in its usual form it is not suitable for mobile messaging, for simple reason - if you're offline, server won't save incoming messages until you log back in. XMPP does this.
              And no, MemoServ, NoteServ and other bolt-on gimmicks don't count. :)

              • (Score: 1) by FatPhil on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:04PM

                by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:04PM (#3532) Homepage

                ssh + screen. My irssi never quits, I can use it from anywhere.

                --
                Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
                • (Score: 2) by ticho on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:51PM

                  by ticho (89) on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:51PM (#3628) Homepage Journal

                  Yes, I am using the very same setup, but I wouldn't dare push it to an average Internet user.

                • (Score: 1) by akinliat on Thursday February 20 2014, @07:43PM

                  by akinliat (1898) <reversethis-{moc.liamg} {ta} {tailnika}> on Thursday February 20 2014, @07:43PM (#3656)

                  First, kudos for an elegant messaging solution. More people should use screen.

                  Doesn't this lose the push functionality, though?

                  I always thought that this was a central feature for messaging apps like BBM or WhatsApp (or even SMS). Heck, even though I've no general need for push messaging myself, the one thing I do use it for (server fault monitoring), I use because I want the alert to get to me ASAP.

                  • (Score: 1) by FatPhil on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:11PM

                    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:11PM (#3776) Homepage

                    As I've never has push functionality, I don't miss it. But sirc and irssi are scriptable, so you can bounce selected messages to other distribution networks if you want. (Assuming they can be scripted, but things like SMSs can trivially.)

                    --
                    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
                    • (Score: 1) by akinliat on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:37AM

                      by akinliat (1898) <reversethis-{moc.liamg} {ta} {tailnika}> on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:37AM (#4688)

                      Huh, interesting. I suppose I just got used to having push.

                      My first smartphone was a Blackberry, and I stayed with them until I was sure that RIM was circling the drain. The two best things about the handset were the great, big, real keyboard, and the efficient push technology.

                      When I finally made the switch to Android, I was shocked at the amount of battery and bandwidth it took to accomplish the things that even that first handset did with ease.

                      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:47PM

                        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:47PM (#4801) Homepage

                        If you're in the US, then SMS's were made utterly useless and unwanted by the carriers right from the start - charging the *recipient* for them too - sheesh, that's braindead (what could possibly go wrong...)!??!.
                        If you're in a civilised part of the world, SMS's became practically free, and the push mechanism of choice, decades ago.

                        --
                        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
                        • (Score: 1) by akinliat on Sunday February 23 2014, @06:31PM

                          by akinliat (1898) <reversethis-{moc.liamg} {ta} {tailnika}> on Sunday February 23 2014, @06:31PM (#5256)

                          I am in the US, and I do pay for incoming texts, but it's all of $3 for the first 100, and an extra $2 for the next 900, so that is not my problem with SMS.

                          I've just never liked it.

                          At first it was the annoyance of using a phone keyboard to type 160-character messages -- annoying all around. Then, once smartphones ameliorated that chore, it was the inelegance of an entirely separate data channel coming to my phone. A phone that already had a TCP/IP stack. The only way that SMS wasn't totally inferior was the push capability.

                          Ever since phones all started having internet capability, I've wondered why they don't just scrap SMS and use the channel as a ping to wake up a data connection. You'd get an efficient push capability that you could theoretically use for almost any connection.

                          • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday February 24 2014, @10:57PM

                            by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday February 24 2014, @10:57PM (#6257) Homepage
                            OK, without a package, I've heard that it's 20c per message sent or received for most carriers - which is just crazy.

                            Europe got SMSs a decade before it got GPRS, so it really was the best thing since sliced bread. US carriers nt adopting GSM, and making SMSs prohibitively expensive when they did means that your perspective will indeed be different. But that's not SMS's fault, that's the US carriers.
                            --
                            Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
                • (Score: 1) by maxwell demon on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:38PM

                  by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:38PM (#3814) Journal

                  Of course that only works if you have a running computer connected to the internet on which you have sufficient rights to ssh in (and a router that is configured to allow it). I can imagine a lot of teens don't have that (they probably have a computer, but they may not be allowed to have it running and connected to the internet while away from home; not to mention that the majority would not have the slightest idea of how to set up an ssh server anyway).

                  --
                  The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Jaruzel on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:36PM

          by Jaruzel (812) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:36PM (#3384) Homepage Journal

          My daughter, and her collection of same-age friends all reacted to the Facebook buyout news by immediately dumping whatsapp (which up until then was their platform of choice) and switching to BBM[1] this morning.

          -Jar

          [1] No, I don't get that choice either. Teenagers huh ?

          --
          This is my opinion, there are many others, but this one is mine.
          • (Score: 4, Informative) by hitsuji on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:15PM

            by hitsuji (2300) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:15PM (#3405)

            BBM was always popular with teenagers in the UK. Now there is an Android client it becomes an attractive alternative to Whatsapp. I use it myself to chat with my daughter.

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Litron286 on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:06AM

        by Litron286 (2272) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:06AM (#3339)

        Gf likes to use it, personally I don't care

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by lennier on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:30AM

      by lennier (2199) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:30AM (#3289)

      To WhatsApp or to Facebook?

      I'd never even heard of WhatsApp, but unfortunately a lot of my friends are on Facebook. I seem to remember Diaspora being only one of many open alternatives a few years back. If the Soylent community can spin up a new Slashcode site in a week, can we get some traction on solving the Twitter/Facebook microblogging duopoly problem?

      --
      Delenda est Beta
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by CowMan on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:38AM

        by CowMan (2314) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:38AM (#3318)

        The alternative for microblogging is Status.Net; it's pretty easy to configure (if you have your own server). Similarly, the answer to instant messaging is (still) XMPP. Diaspora is probably the nicest looking social network alternative, Frendica/Friendica Red is out there too, though it seems it hardly matters what is programmed; the problem remains the same - network effect; it'll be a bit of a lonely place unless your friends are all collectively super-techie or paranoid. It used to be pretty easy to link status.net to twitter, and talk to people on Gtalk from your other XMPP servers; but alas that "walled garden" thing marches on.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by omoc on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:55AM

      by omoc (39) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:55AM (#3367)

      here in Asia, everyone uses Wechat. Just try it and ask your friends to move over, it might be also interesting featurewise as it supports voice and videocalls

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Zwerg_Sense on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:37PM

      by Zwerg_Sense (927) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:37PM (#3457)

      https://threema.ch/ [threema.ch]

      could be an alternative:
      - forward secrecy
      - does not store contact lists on the server, apparently only cashes hashes of your contacts for a period.

      Business model? unknown
      Source code? unavailable

      • (Score: 1) by linsane on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:12PM

        by linsane (633) on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:12PM (#3541)

        surely Facebook 'cashes' while Threema 'caches'

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by soylentsandor on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:24PM

      by soylentsandor (309) on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:24PM (#3550)

      A pretty elaborate review of a whole bunch of alternatives can be found here [missingm.co].

    • (Score: 1) by zeigerpuppy on Friday February 21 2014, @12:50AM

      by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Friday February 21 2014, @12:50AM (#3922)

      Jabber is the open protocol. It has a lot of good clients.
      I run jabber on a Debian server and use BeeJive (iOS) as a client.
      It is a nice light solution and doesn't hog too much battery when running.

      This purchase by Facebook is about name and users, not tech.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Lagg on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:25AM

    by Lagg (105) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:25AM (#3285) Homepage Journal
    It's been said before, will be said now, and will be said in the future. These purchases are symptoms of a bubble. If not one around the general "app" fad, then one localized around facebook itself. Even though this is only $2 billion in real money it's a highly inflated price for the hard value of the company. It doesn't do much technically but was good enough at marketing such that it has a lot of users. There is this vague mindset of "monetize, more users, must monetize more, more ads, more product" in Zuckerberg and his type. Without actually knowing where monetization will come from. If their goal is to sabotage companies and be obstacles in front of real innovation they're doing a pretty good job of it. This is just the latest example of why this "startup with trivial program that has fancy name, get bought, make another startup, get bought, rinse and repeat" thing is just... Tiring. I don't know what else to call it. It's tiring.
    --
    http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by the_ref on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:36AM

      by the_ref (2268) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:36AM (#3292)

      at least the bubble is localised to facebook - so won't be a general disaster to the economy when it bursts.

      But you have to shake your head at this kind of thing, and wonder what would could happen if this kind of cash was spent on real innovation.

      • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:47PM

        by Buck Feta (958) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:47PM (#3424) Journal

        If we could kill Facebook, the economy might actually improve.

        --
        - fractious political commentary goes here -
      • (Score: 2) by SpallsHurgenson on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:45PM

        by SpallsHurgenson (656) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:45PM (#3462)

        Facebook is real innovation... just not in areas we'd like to see. It is innovative in how well it managed to convince people to give away all their most private details in exchange for the digital equivalent of some buttons and beads. It is innovative in getting people to waste time (and money) on some of the most mindless games ever made. It is innovative in that it does all this while at the same time being so upfront about how ruthlessly they intend to exploit their users. It's a brand new amalgamation of psychology, economics and technology, imitated by many. We may not like where it has takien us, but there can be little doubt that it was Facebook that led us here.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:55AM

      by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:55AM (#3299)

      If their goal is to sabotage companies and be obstacles in front of any possible competition, whatever the price, they're doing a pretty good job of it.

      FTFY.

      --
      Soylent is the best disinfectant.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by combatserver on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:30AM

        by combatserver (38) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:30AM (#3312)

        "...any possible competition, whatever the price..."

        I agree.

        When you live in a house of cards, the last thing you need is someone grabbing the ones from the bottom. One missing card at the bottom is enough to bring the entire house down.

        --
        I hope I can change this later...
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by geb on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:14AM

      by geb (529) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:14AM (#3307)

      My guess is that it's selective memory in action. Someone is seeing a network, immediately thinking "network effect" and "lock in", and from there assuming that the users will be around forever.

      There are plenty of cases where that is true. First to market in some new field often gets you a near-monopoly, and so it makes sense to throw money around like water in an attempt to get there first. If you go slow, somebody else will beat you to it and you get nothing.

      All the examples where that hasn't worked are easy to forget, because they're not around anymore.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Fluffeh on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:24AM

      by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:24AM (#3311) Journal

      First off, WhatsApp really isn't technically awesome - but to your post, it's probably not something that many folks here would be all that interested in. Think of it as an alternate SMS/Email thing via a central server. Most people here wouldn't care about the thing - we send emails, use SMS and hang about on sites trawling and posting on forums.

      What it did really well is pretend to give the average user something that they technically already had for free - but for free. See what I did there? It's basic (and brilliant) marketing. It uses data to send a message to another user who then uses their data to get it. As for the pricetag, yeah, it's probably a symptom of someone who has too much money (way too much) and doesn't know what to do with it - but on the other hand, it could also be a rather simple way to ensure that what they have stays valued at what it is. Look at MySpace - once it was the pinnacle of social media, Facebook came along and the thing is pretty much worthless. Facebook as a company might actually be rather clever here - probably overpaying for the product itself, but at the same time ensuring that IT is the social media engine that has the user base. $16 billion might be a very cheap way indeed to maintain it's own value rather than drop like MySpace... erm... a rock.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by cubancigar11 on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:51PM

        by cubancigar11 (330) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:51PM (#3392) Homepage Journal

        that they technically already had for free - but for free.

        Ok, you have no idea about Whatsapp and most probably have never used it. As a user I will tell you why it succeeds and others like Google Chat (pre-installed on Android), GoChat, Viber etc. don't. But first, why it trumps over SMS/MMS that many of you are harping about here:

        1. Whatsapp is not popular in USA but in less developed places like India and Africa. This might make you think that rest of the world is illiterate and stupid, but it is not so. You see, SMS is pretty expensive in most of the world and people are charged per SMS everywhere. So a communication between two people can very easily finish all your balance.
        2. Most people have wifi in office and at home. Those who don't, instead have 2G and 3G connection. 2G is ridiculously cheap in India and enables unlimited chatting via Whatsapp. So, it is without a doubt a better alternative than SMS/MMS.

        Now why it succeeded over rest of the similar services:

        1. No need to create 'accounts'. Your phone number is automatically binding you uniquely to it.
        2. It is 'always on' and instant and doesn't drain much battery.
        3. If you are offline, it delivers messages when you come online. Moreover, it allows you to send messages to someone when he is online. Along with feedback.
        4. It has a simple UI an doesn't come into way of chatting like 'status messages'.
        5. The same reason Skype is successful over voipcheap etc. Critical mass.
        6. It has clients for Blackberry and Symbian, which are big in most of the 3rd world.

        It is easy to complain that XMPP is not succeeding, but there are not good clients of XMPP. One could have made it, but no one did. Google chat could have become simpler, but instead it became monstrous 'Hangout' which takes considerable more time to open and ties your G+ everywhere. GoChat will come if you have GoLauncher. WeChat is a Chinese app and pretty big there, but probably a copy of whatsapp. Viber is again a monster which drains battery.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by aitmanga on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:19PM

          by aitmanga (558) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:19PM (#3443)

          1. Whatsapp is not popular in USA but in less developed places like India and Africa. This might make you think that rest of the world is illiterate and stupid, but it is not so. You see, SMS is pretty expensive in most of the world and people are charged per SMS everywhere. So a communication between two people can very easily finish all your balance.

          As someone who lives in Mexico I can certainly attest to this. Data from some social media apps (like Twitter, Whatsapp, or Facebook) is free and since SMS cost ~1MXN you can cleary see that it's in the best interest of people to use the cheaper alternative.

          --
          Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by chown on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:22PM

          by chown (1227) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:22PM (#3722)

          One more thing to add: along with the above, whatsapp easily allows group communication. this is cumbersome with SMS, and is a lot more heavyweight with other clients. whatsapp simply lets you arbitrarily create a chat group and chat on it.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by radu on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:57PM

        by radu (1919) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:57PM (#3429)

        > Most people here wouldn't care about the thing
        > technically already had for free

        Not everybody everywhere. In Germany SMS is *very* expensive, ~20-30c for *1 SMS*. Sometimes they throw in some 100 SMS/month free because "they're being nice". Or you can pay something like 10€/month for unlimited SMS.

        That's far from free.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by EventH0rizon on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:44AM

      by EventH0rizon (936) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:44AM (#3323) Journal

      > These purchases are symptoms of a bubble

      Quite possibly. Or a more sobering thought, since *we* are the product from Facebook's point of view, they are betting that their near-monopoly on our graph data is worth this insane sort of money in the near future.

      In a way, I hope you're right, I hope it is a bubble.

    • (Score: 1) by Non Sequor on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:18AM

      by Non Sequor (1005) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:18AM (#3347) Journal

      I've heard it suggested by some kind of pundit that Microsoft should have done this sort of thing (i.e. buy up all of the startups) in order to stay relevant. It seems stupid to me because at valuations like this it's more like buying high priced lottery tickets, unless you're hubristic enough to believe that any business would benefit from your managerial insight.

      --
      Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by linsane on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:35AM

      by linsane (633) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:35AM (#3359)

      Having spent a deal of time in the Middle East, its amazing how embedded WhatsApp is in both personal lives and business there, I'm sure this is the same elsewhere too but not currently the case back home where 'traditional' email / phone / mobile continues to be very much the norm for work.

      While the total figure may be bubbly, the cash sum that is involved is the metric that is of considerable interest and, as with other biggies like the Instagram deal, is the bit that can't be unwound or devalued if / when a bubble goes pop.

      Speaking of which: Popcorn anyone?

    • (Score: 1) by Koen on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:31PM

      by Koen (427) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:31PM (#3454)

      $16B for WhatsApp. Lenovo paid $2.3B for IBM's server business. Bubble indeed.

      --
      /. refugees on Usenet: comp.misc [comp.misc]
    • (Score: 1) by digitalaudiorock on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:43PM

      by digitalaudiorock (688) on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:43PM (#3517)

      Bubble isn't the word. The fact that Facebook has a market cap that's 85% of that of IBM....I mean seriously...there just are no words. They couldn't justify that price if they were allowed to print money.

    • (Score: 1) by TheloniousToady on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:33PM

      by TheloniousToady (820) on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:33PM (#3623)
      If this is part of a bubble, maybe Facebook should pay in Bitcoin instead of real money. ;-) But seriously, Folks, Ars has a very nice article about this [arstechnica.com] that (spoiler alert) ends with:

      On being acquired by a large company

      (quoted before the Facebook acquisition) Jan Koum says: "We worked in a large company and we weren't that happy. Facebook Google, Apple, Yahoo - there's a common theme. None of these companies ever sold. By staying independent they were able to build a great company. That's how we think about it." Brian Acton adds: "I worry about what [an acquiring] company would do with our population: we've made such an important promise to our users - no ads, no gimmicks, no games - that to have someone come along and buy us seems awfully unethical. It goes against my personal integrity."

      It seems that the core values of "no ads, no gimmicks, no games" that apparently made WhatsApp so successful are the very antithesis of the core values of Facebook. It's hard to see how the purchase price could ever be recouped without turning it into something fundamentally different than what it is today - by adding ads, gimmicks, and games.

  • (Score: 1) by Darth Turbogeek on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:48AM

    by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:48AM (#3298)

    Yeah, I'm sure this honestly just a redundany comment but seriously, this is stupid money for something I cant see the value in..... In fact I've never even heard of the app in question which also surprise me, I usually hear about the apps before they get huge money offered. So I suppose because I've never heard of said app would explain why I have no idea what the value is, which I knnow someone will point out.... but still, it seems like stupid huge cash to plonk down.

    What on earth are Facebook looking for here?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by chris.alex.thomas on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:09PM

      by chris.alex.thomas (2331) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:09PM (#3372)

      just imagine the number of text messages sent between all of those users, which they can now start to relate against facebook accounts, making it more sure what things you like, making sure you get more targetted advertising, I was having this conversation this morning and to be honest, as delusional as this sounds, it actually makes a little bit of sense.

      also, on mobile, facebook or whatsapp are the two "go to" apps I use for messaging, hangouts with my gf cause she doesn't have a smart phone, so it's basically free chatting.

      so you can expect them to technically merge both networks together in the next 12 months, along with analyse all that juicy traffic, looking for keywords to better target you, of course, you'll never buy anything, but if 1% does, it might make a shit-ton of money.

      so from some delusional advertising marketing person's mind, that makes a lot of sense...I'm not sure how $16 beilllllion is justified....but ok....not my money...some guys just got very rich and can go to their next venture knowing their job was done....they got rich...oh yeah and people got a nice chat application too.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by elf on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:17AM

    by elf (64) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:17AM (#3308)

    I don't use whatsapp but I know a lot of people that do, the model whatsapp has is that you pay a yearly subscription of (uk money here...) ~69p (last time I hearD). So from the start whatsapp has a very profitable model. Facebook have said they are going to treat it as a seperate company and the person running it will continue running it. If it stays this way then the end user won't notice any difference.

    In terms of privacy, if you use and like whatsapp now you have already agreed to the incredible policy of having all your user contacts stored on the whatsapp server (therefore they know you address book) and to allow anyone to add you in to their phone book with out your permission (although you can block it). I'm not sure facebook could do any worse here, I guess facebook gains a whole new mechanism of how to link phone numbers to different sets of people on facebook now (so there could be some cause for concern here)

    Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing we are certain the price tag is astronomically too high! What ever facebook eventually do will never be enough to make up for all the money spent on it

    All chat apps have their own privacy concerns, people don't just run these services for free and expect nothing in return. You have to give something up for the model to work. I for one don't really care if people search my chat messages. They are pretty mundane and boring :)

    • (Score: 1) by hitsuji on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:19PM

      by hitsuji (2300) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:19PM (#3407)

      Is an annual fee of only 69p per user actually profitable? That little for unlimited messaging for a year?

    • (Score: 1) by bryn on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:35PM

      by bryn (2394) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:35PM (#3415)

      AFAIK there isn't a yearly subscription for WhatsApp - I have the app as my whole family use it and I've not seen any subscription details anywhere in the app itself (Except Settings > Payment info > Service: Lifetime.)

      --
      He who dares wins. He who hesitates, doesn't.
      • (Score: 1) by elf on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:58PM

        by elf (64) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:58PM (#3430)

        I am not sure if the 69p thing is global but whatsapp does have a subscription service that comes up after a year of free use

        http://www.whatsapp.com/faq/general/23014681 [whatsapp.com]

        (Whats the write way to post URL's in comments?)

        • (Score: 1) by bryn on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:16PM

          by bryn (2394) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:16PM (#3442)

          Well I'll be a canned ham... odd.

          I've found an iTunes receipt from May 2012 saying I paid 69p for WhatsApp but I don't remember seeing a subscription update May 2013 - maybe I managed to buy it before the subscription fee came into place? (Thus seeing Service: Lifetime in my Settings)

          Can anyone with WhatsApp confirm what they see in Settings > Account > Payment Information > Service?

          --
          He who dares wins. He who hesitates, doesn't.
    • (Score: 1) by monster on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:06PM

      by monster (1260) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:06PM (#3438) Journal

      In terms of privacy, if you use and like whatsapp now you have already agreed to the incredible policy of having all your user contacts stored on the whatsapp server (therefore they know you address book) and to allow anyone to add you in to their phone book with out your permission (although you can block it).

      You mean, like when someone inputs a number in her addressbook, or looks up your number in the white pages? Outrageous!

      As for the buying price, I guess it is more likely to be related to their own stock: Valuation has been pretty unimpressive so far, and since a great chunk of the price is in Facebook stock ($12b) the operation can make it go up a bit and also help in giving investors a good impression now that the number of users has ceased to skyrocket.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Konomi on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:11AM

    by Konomi (189) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:11AM (#3342)

    I'm waiting for facebook to buy the entire Internet, one day I'll get a knock on my door and they'll want to buy my computers, stack of hard drives and poorly written bash scripts.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Non Sequor on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:23AM

      by Non Sequor (1005) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:23AM (#3351) Journal

      You just need a dumb trademark and you'll get an offer of at least $1b. Here are some you could use

      namepile
      BlogTaco
      StackOPics
      Diddler
      BookBook (you may get the offer as part of the settlement in your trademark violation suit for this one)

      --
      Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by inasity_rules on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:29PM

      by inasity_rules (147) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:29PM (#3380)

      It is more subtly evil than that. Facebook don't want to "buy" the internet. They want to become the internet. Buying random companies is just a small part of the long term goal.

      --
      I have determined that my sig is indeterminate.
    • (Score: 1) by SuggestiveLanguage on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:52PM

      by SuggestiveLanguage (1313) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:52PM (#3428)

      So, like every other sufficiently wealthy service provider, Facebook wants to be what AOL: Walled garden, nonstop in-your-face advertising, dumbed-down, intrusive interfaces, poor security, and ever-escalating rent seeking by charging a premium for services provided elsewhere for low or no cost.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by cockroach on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:27PM

    by cockroach (2266) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:27PM (#3410)

    It's a bit sad to see how the people who are jumping ship now completely fail to take a minute or two to re-think the basics. It seems that most of the people I know just move on to the next proprietary, closed communications system. In a few years they are going to complain again when that thing gets bought by one of the big players and still do the exact same move yet again. And again.

    Meanwhile I am happy that I've never used WhatsApp and I will keep talking to my buddies through Jabber/XMPP, laughing in the face of everybody whose personal data has just been sold to FB with a big, fat "told you so" expression on my face.

    • (Score: 1) by neiras on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:56PM

      by neiras (2155) on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:56PM (#3598)

      I like talking to my family. They all use Google services. Until recently, Google Talk supported Jabber federation - but no longer.

      I have been sucked into Hangouts and I hate it. Most of my contacts were as well when federation died.

      Critical mass is a real thing. The jabber community got screwed by Google.

      • (Score: 1) by cockroach on Friday February 21 2014, @12:24AM

        by cockroach (2266) on Friday February 21 2014, @12:24AM (#3904)

        The jabber community got screwed by Google.

        Very much so. To me, this was when they finally became truly evil. It's one thing to build walled gardens and try to trick everyone into using them (i.e. Google+), but closing a previously open service once you have enough momentum is just wrong.

  • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:30PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:30PM (#3412)

    Oh, US dollars. I know the beta site was American or assumed all visitors were American, is this new site going to do the same thing?

    • (Score: 1) by deif on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:50PM

      by deif (92) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:50PM (#3427)
      Also, it's wrong to assume one of the numeric scales [wikipedia.org] (i.e. short-scale billions vs long-scale billions).
      --
      ∀(x, y ∈ A ∪ B; x ≠ y) x² - y² ≥ 0
    • (Score: 5, Funny) by mrclisdue on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:03PM

      by mrclisdue (680) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:03PM (#3436)

      Oh, US dollars. I know the beta site was American or assumed all visitors were American, is this new site going to do the same thing?

      Indeed, matey!

      I see your disgust and I raise you 1 token of your choosing.

      Perhaps we can cite valuation in Bitcoin, since we're all nerdy enough to understand wtf it is whilst failing to explain it to anyone who doesn't have a degree in voodoo economics. Ponzi will suffice in a pinch.

      I digress.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by carburraetor on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:43PM

    by carburraetor (2221) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:43PM (#3423) Homepage

    Good for the lucky 55 folks who are part of WhatsApp. Here's a toast to their good fortune. Looks like facebook is looking at running WhatsApp as an independent entity, so a continued chance to keep doing what they are doing.

    As for me, SMS/Text Messaging works just fine, I am not one of the 450M, nor plan on jumping onto any other social messaging service, not matter what the pitch is.

    --
    I build models that rarely hold.
  • (Score: 1) by SyntaxError on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:30PM

    by SyntaxError (1577) on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:30PM (#3677)

    Why everyone doesn't just go fill facebook with junk information? If everyone started faking likes, friends, etc the whole data mining operation would be impossible.

  • (Score: 1) by EvilJim on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:08PM

    by EvilJim (2501) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:08PM (#3774) Journal

    I don't have enough friends to even bother with junk like this, I spend approx 20c per month on txt's, that is 1 txt for those of you counting and that's usually work related :) I could claim it back if I could be bothered.