Why Facebook Bought WhatsApp

Surely you’ve heard by now: Facebook owns the immensely popular messaging app WhatsApp. On a surface level, the purchase might seem excessive, as Facebook Messenger is fairly popular in the United States. But looking a little bit closer at the global data reveals that the purchase might be more shrewd than it appears on the surface. Facebook is now a global company, and for many with feature phones with Facebook Home is the portal to the Internet. But for messaging on a global scale, Facebook trails heavily. In Europe, WhatsApp is the messaging app of choice by, in the most extreme example in Spain, 97% of mobile users. Similarly, WhatsApp is at 83%, 84$ and 81% in the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, respectively. Beyond Europe, WhatsApp can claim 71% of Brazilian mobile users, and in Canada, WhatsApp and Facebook are tied with 16% of mobile users. It paints a dire picture for Facebook: though the company might have users looped into their social network, mobile users aren’t using Facebook to communicate. But with the acquisition of WhatsApp, Facebook just bought their way into a very commanding position over the global messaging market. Though it still remains unclear whether Facebook will keep WhatsApp’s strict no advertising policy, what is clear is the fact that if you want to access the global messaging ecosystem, Facebook is now your major bottleneck.