So it’s finally happened. Facebook is acquiring WhatsApp. And it’s for a staggering $16 billion dollars. That means one thing only; Facebook is officially the king of messaging leaving rivals; – the big one being Google – in the dust. And it’s not just messaging. They have become the king of apps too generally. Facebook itself, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp form an almost complete circle of mobile apps for many people. Sharing wise, the only big app missing from that lot is probably Twitter.
The first app you open in the morning from now own is, almost always, an app owned by Facebook. Not a Google one. Not email (well, unless you’re an oldie). Not Hangouts.
There are non-Google app, exceptions ofcourse. Like Twitter for example. But truth be told, if you’re in a country like mine (Zimbabwe), Twitter matters to a much less audience than WhatsApp and Facebook. If WhatsApp is a 10, Twitter would somewhere around 0.1. or below.
But enough about the Twitter comparison. Where does Google fall into the acquisition development itself. They fall. At least in terms of people connections and messaging. Google Talk, or hangouts as its now known, is a distant second now. Even third if we include Facebook Messenger. And that’s not because people love hangouts, it’s really because of its artificial integration to Android, Gmail and Google+. Using it myself, I very much feel I’m on the old desktop app, cobbled together to remain relevant in a mobile messaging world.
Google knows these realities too. It’s no secret they wanted WhatsApp too at least. So much they were willing to pay just to be told what was going on acquisition wise.
Why WhatsApp is happier with Facebook than Google can only be a speculation. One that will likely fall on the advertising matrix. Yes, Facebook itself relies on advertising too but they are definitely not as mean an ad machine as Google is.
But there’s likely another reason, a related one. The Instagram experience. Instagram was promised independence post acquisition by Facebook, and one year later, this has largely stayed so. At least looking from outside. This is probably a reference point for the WhatsApp founders. Google’s big acquisitions however, become tightly integrated into the ecosystem. Android and YouTube are the biggest examples that come to mind. Yes, no independence was promised, that is how Google works. An integration into an ad machine is something WhatsApp has vowed to stay away from.