Why Did Facebook Buy WhatsApp? Dwindling Supply Of Options To Grab Hundreds Of Millions Of Users ... That Are For Sale

That's one reason ... but here are a few more .... 

1. 450M active users (Source: NY Times)

2. Adding 1M users daily

3. 70% of MAU use the service daily (Source: TechCrunch)

4. WhatsApp offers users in Europe, Brazil and other emerging markets (= net new audience) (Source: Gravity/Techcrunch)

5. Nearly 200 minutes of usage each week (Source: Mobidia)

6. Facebook gets how to monetize mobile through paid advertising without wrecking the user experience. (In Q4 2013 they crossed over from 49% of revenue from mobile to 53% from a base of 945M mobile monthly active users) Source: Facebook, TechCrunch

 

Why $16B to $19B? I am not a financial analyst, but here are a few thoughts:

- Facebook generated $1.37B in mobile revenue in Q4 2013 on a base of 945M users ... annualized that is $5.80/MAU (monthly active user)

- WhatsApp already generates $1/user for a chunk of their users through a subscription fee (less fee to app store?)

- If WhatsApp users can be monetized at the same value, that adds another 50% approximately in mobile ad revenue

- Facebook reported 914 minutes of use on mobile per month in 2013 (Source: allthingsd.com)

- According to Mobidia, only Kakao Talk has more

- WhatsApp is already located in Si Valley

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Viber Nets $900M From Japan's Rakuten

Finally - some sensible entrepreneurs. I love it. Viber draws a stark comparison to the owners of SnapChat that turned down $3B not long ago ... and they had far fewer users. With $900M for 300M subscribers, perhaps we are now seeing the market price. (Viber brings Rakuten 300M subscribers according to this Reuters article.) 

Why did Rakuten want the platform? I'll offer a few ideas:

- Companies need to embrace the mobile mind shift and engage consumers where they are and how they want to be engaged. Today and increasingly so - consumers expect engagement on their mobile devices, whether they are shopping or seeking customer service. Companies need to be present in those moments when consumers reach for their phones. 

- Viber isn't simply an app. It may have started as an app, but like so many others with aspirations ... it has transformed from an app to a platform. I may not need 200 apps on my phone. I may not want 50. Not every brand will earn a spot or be able to manufacture a mobile moment with me through an app on my phone. Brands are going to have to "borrow mobile moments" by engaging with consumers on third party platforms. Consumers need a messaging or communication app, a mapping app, and what else? The question is: how long will this list be. 

- Audience size matters. Everyone says, "oh, we could just go build this ourselves." But it takes a special app to get several hundred million users. I can't even count the number of social media/messaging apps that I have downloaded, used 2-3 times and abandoned because the size of the community was too small. Consider also that these apps draw up to a couple of hundred minutes of usage a week. 

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mHealth & Wellness: The Heart Of Mobile Innovation

I had the opportunity to talk to nearly 50 companies working on mHealth and mWellness services and technologies in 2013. With the perspective of 13 years as a mobile analyst behind me and a career in telecom that started in the late 80's, I say with confidence that this category within mobile is more exciting and has the potential to be more game-changing, than anything since the introduction of the iPhone. Most of you reading this blog are not in healthcare - that's why the report offers a WIM (what it means) for industries outside of health and wellness. 

I started this research journey with a simple mission: "what mobile engagement tactics can and do change consumer behavior?" Or, in other words, what gets people up off the couch? Is it competition, community, feedback, encouragement or coaching, a poke, or what?

  • How did MyFitnessPal facilitate more than 100M pounds of weight loss?
  • How did RunKeeper get their users to move 783 million miles?
  • How did Strava motivate their users to move 1.4 billion kilometers?
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