Facebook is making a big push into the tracking space – both in terms of tracking user data, and now in terms of tracking users’ movements. Today, Facebook announced that it purchased Moves, a fitness tracking app that records daily activities using smartphone. The goal, of course, is to record more data and to continue to target users in increasingly specific ways to make consumers’ lives more quantifiable – as well as to provide advertisers with a much wider range of ways of serving ads to specific instances. For now, Facebook intends to keep the apps independent much like it presently does with Instagram and Whatsapp. Nonetheless, it presents Facebook with the way to continually store increasingly personal data about its users.
Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp threw Facebook’s proprietary Messenger app into question on many different levels, but now we know that Facebook wants to keep its in-house app around – at least for the foreseeable future. The company is doing this by forcing its users to send messages exclusively through the Messenger app by eliminating the chat features from the traditional Facebook app; that is, in two weeks time, anyone who wants to send a Facebook message on their cell phones will need to download the separate message app. The messages tab in the main app will redirect users to the other app. It will allow Facebook to build its Messenger app out even more, adding deeper features like stickers, gifs, and video sharing, pushing branding and native messaging advertising out through the app and onto the customers.
E-Plus is now offering a cheap, pre-pad SIM-card that takes WhatsApp traffic off of the data plan; this means that for this pre-paid system, WhatsApp is the primary over-the-top messaging platform for communication. For €10, German E-Plus users can by the small bundle of mobile voice, data, and text messages, while utilizing WhatsApp as their primary form of communication. WhatsApp isn’t taking over E-Plus’s brand, it’s just hooking more E-Plus users into WhatsApp, effectively increasing its active user numbers. WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, tried to do something similar with Orange in North Africa and Eastern Europe, to exempt its messaging services from data plans. As messaging platforms become OTT data and service platforms, mobile marketers and advertisers will need to take increasing note of their prominence, as they are rapidly becoming the primary form of communication on mobile devices.
On the heels of Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, the popular messaging service announced that it will expand into full-fledged voice calling for both iOS and Android this year. The feature will be available to BlackBerrys and Nokia devices afterwords. According to The Guardian, the voice calling will initially be free, but that will likely be temporary. Messaging is free at first but thereafter requires a $0.99/year subscription, so it’s likely that we’ll see a similar model for voice calling. Whether that will change with an eye to profitability under Facebook, however, remains to be seen. WhatsApp also released a user update: it now has 465 million monthly active users and 330 million daily users – 15 million more monthly users than even Facebook.
WhatsApp announced another major milestone today: on the heels of its October claim that it had hit 350 million active monthly users, it’s now announcing that it has surpassed the 400 million mark in the same category. It’s 50 million new users in two months, and 100 million new users in the past four months alone. Clearly, the number of people who aren’t active users but have downloaded the app is much higher, and may mean that WhatsApp is leading the charge in the third party messaging war, which, if the numbers are anything to go by, is very evidently picking up steam.
In 2013, messaging apps became a hot topic in the mobile sphere, but there is still no hands-down dominant service in the U.S. Facebook upgraded its offering in the text messaging space by revamping the two-year-old Messenger app, adding free calls and stickers, following the lead of Asian messaging leaders Line, Kakao Talk and WeChat. The service also added real-time statuses to allow users to tell if their friends are online or on mobile, and phone number-based messaging to allow connections to non-Facebook users. While Messenger might not be as full-featured as its Asian counterparts, don’t write it off just yet, as Facebook’s 1.2 billion active users could serve as a starter user base for the service to become as dominant a player in mobile messaging as it is in online social messaging.
THe ver-The-Top (OTT) messaging space continues to grow rapidly and affect user behavior in the mobile space. Today popular messaging app What’s App reported having processed 27 Billion (yes, with a b) messages in just one day.
OTT messaging allows users to send messages to eachother without encroaching on carrier SMS limits, and enables smoother group chat functionality than is typically available within an SMS context.
While many large rivals including China’s We Chat or Canada’s Kik employ a freemium model and/or are ad supported, What’s App is ad-free and costs 99 cents per year to use.
It seems as if WhatsApp rumors won’t die. Last year it was Facebook that was rumored to be purchasing the world-wide messaging powerhouse; this time it’s Google that looks to be moving in for the acquisition. It is said that the continually expanding company is looking to spend close to $1 billion on WhatsApp, which would put it in the same league as Instagram. WhatsApp lets users send messages for free across many smartphone platforms, and is currently the number one app in the App Store in dozens of countries. It has also been downloaded more than 100 million times from Google Play. What’s clear is that WhatsApp is on the rise; whether it gets purchased this time remains to be seen, but could have wide implications for mobile messaging and Google’s social media strategies.