Facebook’s WhatsApp Buy Signals the Urgent Need for Mobile Operators to Roll out RCS, Faster!

by Harry Wang | Feb. 19, 2014

Facebook opens its checkbook again. This time, it spends $16 billion on WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app with a staggering user base and only a couple of years ago valued at $1 billion. What is most surprising from Facebook’s press release is the stat that WhatsApp’s volume of messages is “approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume.” If the WhatsApp buy is Facebook’s own recognition of the slow traction of its Facebook messenger app, it is also a smart move to acquire a growing messaging platform and eliminate a potential threat, just like it did with Instagram.

It is also a slap in the face of global mobile operators right before the industry is convening for its annual gala in Barcelona, Spain. For years, we heard operators talking about counterattacks to OTT services that include messaging apps. But we have yet to see successful adoption of the Rich Communication Suite (RCS), or Joyn, or similar consumer-facing services. In contrast, messaging apps like Line, WeChat, and KaoKao, are thriving. Now Mark Zuckerberg is going to keynote the MWC and I just wonder what messages he will deliver at the conference—an olive branch or a triumphal vision.

We at Parks Associates long believe that messaging apps are no longer simply a communications tool. Because they are so simple to use, so addictive, and so everyday life, they have become social networks and life-showcasing platform. Evidence? Just look at what KaoKao and WeChat have been doing lately.

Parks Associates will measure messaging app usage and related business models in the upcoming Mobile 360 consumer survey. we will follow up with an industry report examining messaging apps’ role in people’s mobile lifestyle and business implications for mobile operators and OTT service providers.

Tags: apps, mobile, OTT

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