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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh... that is a very good point!
> 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 10â‚¬/month for unlimited SMS.
That's far from free.