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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Facebook Paper: What Can eBusiness Pros Learn About The Need For Multiple, Simple Apps?

Facebook will launch its new Paper product on February 3. The questions I have been asked are, "Why?" and "Should we be thinking about multiple apps rather than one large app?" Both good questions. 

The first question -- I can only take a shot. Facebook, like many other media properties, depends heavily on advertising for revenue. To get advertising, you need eyeballs. More and more minutes per day are spent on mobile phones. Consumption of news, information, and media generally tops the list behind communication. Consumers also expect highly curated experiences on small screens that can be more challenging to navigate. At first glance, the Paper user interface and experience looks to be quite elegant.

It always makes me smile to see a product or app launched that takes a mobile first-approach. From the short video that was released, you can instantly tell that they didn't start with a web experience and think, "How can we strip this down and put it on a small screen?" They appeared to have done ethonographic research -- to watch and observe how people engage with their phones and consume information through the course of the day (e.g., the unfolding of the newspaper). This is one of the best practices in mobile design -- understand the needs of consumers on the go. Companies must ask, "What are those moments during the day when someone reaches for the phone to access information or a service?" Forrester calls them mobile moments. Companies must be ready to serve customers in those moments.

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Predictions 2014: Mobile Trends For eBusiness Professionals

My colleague Thomas Husson (Marketing Leadership) and I teamed up again to identify the most impactful and new mobile trends for 2014. (See the full report here.)

You might ask, "how does one decide what are going to be the big trends?" Good question. For me, there are several points of input. In 2013, I had the opportunity to interview close to 200 companies in the course of doing research for Forrester's next book, The Mobile Mind Shift, as well as for my own research. I spoke to some of the best and brightest enterprises (e.g., retailers, hotels), technology companies (e.g., sensors), and vendors in the United States, Europe, China, Australia, India, Japan, Korea, Canada, and beyond. I had the opportunity to do field research in China and Korea - to walk the streets, visit stores, observe consumers and interview executives about one of the most exciting mobile markets in the world. More than 40 of the interviews were in the exciting space of mobile health and wellness. Thomas and I surveyed several hundred mobile executives. I also collaborated with Thomas who has incredible breadth and depth of knowledge of Europe. 

We chose 5 trends that will make an impact and 5 over-hyped ideas that will fail to deliver their anticipated value

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My Connected Plant

We talk about the mobile mind shift at Forrester Research - 

"The expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need." 

Mobile gives us unprecented control over more things in our lives - our schedule, our commute, our thermostat, our finances, etc. Mobile also gives us confidence we need - whether it's knowing we'll be on time or that there is enough money in the bank to cover our next purchase. 

I've been connecting stuff not only to get a sense of what works and what doesn't or what is a good experience and what is poor, but also to get a feeling for how much control I get, how I change my behavior, how much more confidence I feel in making decisions and so forth. I've been wearing fitness wearables for almost two years. I'm also collecting data to see what I use, how I use it, what is useful, etc. My dog now wears a pedometer. (More later on that). My husband has one. My friends do. 

So - my latest experiment is putting a tracker on a plant - no, not to see where it goes, but to check its health and allow it to talk to me - tell me what it needs. 

I'm not sure if the experiment will go much beyond this first week so I'll post some images now. 

 

 

CES was this past week - look to my colleague's Frank Gillett, JP Gownder or Michele Pelino for more on wearable technology. 

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Instagram Tells Us Mobile Phones Are For Communication At News Event

Instagram’s ‘Instagram Direct’ announcement this morning left me speechless, as I followed the live feed (thank you CNET) from the West Coast. First, let me disclose that I am middle-aged. I’m 45 years of age. What does this mean? I remember AIM in the late nineties. I remember the days when chat sessions evaporated. I remember my first cell phone in 1997 and texting my friends – mostly in Europe at that time. The idea of communicating with people I know first and foremost is not new to me. It is very comfortable – more so than Tweeting or posting.

Bottom line: This is a “catch-up” move for Instagram.

1) Mobile phones have always been about communicating with friends and people we know. The magic of mobile phones early on was that a person’s phone number was their ID. It made it so easy to send SMS or MMS messages.

2) Instagram has 150M downloads, and half of their users are active daily. That is awesome. However, its competitors globally – Kakao Talk, WeChat, etc. – have two to three times that number. Apps like WeChat already allow users to share videos, photos, messages, cartoons, voice clips, etc. to individuals, groups, groups created around an event, etc.

3) Messaging will help them earn more mobile media minutes. I spoke with Chris Hill at Mobidia last week, and he shared some of their data on usage minutes. In their sample from mid-October, Kakao Talk had more than 200 minutes of usage per week, WhatsApp was just shy of 200, while Kik Messenger, LINE, and WeChat fell just below 100 minutes of use per week. If they were to post ads as a means of monetization, minutes spent is key.

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Snapchat Rejects Facebook's $3B Bid

If you believe the idiom "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," then Snapchat believes it will be worth more than $6B to a future buyer — or the public through an IPO. The service is appealing not just for the UI but also for the limited time the content is stored. That appeals to me as a middle-aged adult, let alone to a teen with poor judgement who may be applying for college or a job in a few years. We've probably all felt awkward at some point about something someone posted. 

If you believe the movie "The Social Network," Mark Zuckerberg was also advised to turn down early offers. Remember the shockwaves that rippled down the West coast when Microsoft invested $240M in the fall of 2007 for what is now a 1.6% stake or $1.36B valuation? (See Source

I am not our social media expert. I am also not our primary mobile marketing expert, though I've covered it extensively at times. This POV is from a mobile analyst who has spent a lot of time looking at social networks on mobile devices. 

Here's what we do know:

- There are about 7 billion people on earth. 

- 6 billion of them have mobile phones.

- 1 billion (and growing) of them have smartphones, with nearly 400m of those in China.

- People communicate, consume media, and transact on mobile phones — in that order.

- Mobile phones sit at the core of our social graph. We create photos and we share good times with friends. I don't often post while I am sitting at home working. I post when I am out and about doing fun things that I want to share. 

What drives a $6B+ valuation beyond pure speculation, optimism, and wishful thinking?

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Mobile Shifts Into Real-Time Gear

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember going to the bank with my Mom. She’d say, “hey, let’s go. I need to make a quick trip to the bank to deposit a check.” It was a big deal that the bank had a drive thru. We’d pull up in the car. My mom would manually roll down the window. A teller would speak to us. My mom would reach out and take the plastic tube. She’d drop in a few checks, put the tube back into the machine and it would be sucked back into the building. A couple minutes later, the pneumatics would work their magic, and money and a lollipop would appear. We’d drive back home. All in, maybe this trip took 20 minutes.

It took 20 minutes to deposit a check. My mom was thrilled – besides that she didn’t have to get out of her car, the bank was even open on Saturdays. I only missed one episode of Sesame Street. She was satisfied with this experience for probably two decades.

Fast forward 40 years. If it takes me more than 20 seconds to deposit a check, (And, yes, my 93 year old grandmother still sends me paper checks), I’m twitching … I’m staring at the app on my phone and wondering how the bank could get it so wrong. Just two years ago, I was fine with walking over to the bank and using the ATM.

Two things are changing. One, consumers expect to do things quickly. Two, their expectations of you – their bank, their store, their hotel – are shifting very, very quickly as the result of mobile.

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Prepare For The Mobile Revolution

Mobile is fundamentally changing how businesses need to think about customer and employee engagement. Why? Consumers and employees expect anywhere anytime access to information and services in their moment of need. They expect highly contextual or relevant experiences that allow them to complete tasks quickly.

Mobile strategies have moved well beyond shrinking desktop experiences down to small screens.

I get asked a lot, “Well, who is doing this well?” My answer: “Very few companies.” Sophistication in mobile services has become less obvious. Companies with a solid vision are working hard in the background to put infrastructure in place – to create a services layer and APIs – that allows access to their core. As Scott Wilson of United so eloquently said, “We needed a single source of truth.” I would add that you need one ready to deliver real-time information in a consumer's or employee’s context. Expect it to handle a lot of volume as well.

When it comes to benchmarking, too many business professionals are sitting in their inflatable kayaks on the surface of the Gulf of Alaska. They can’t see below the surface to see what their competitors are doing. They treat mobile as a project rather than a product.

 

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