The internet pretty much exploded last week at the news that Facebook had acquired messaging service WhatsApp for a massive $11 billion. Websites debated whether the app was really worth so much, what Facebook’s plans were, and what this meant for the future of both companies.
Unfortunately, according to an article I was linked by my good friend and fellow blogger Rob Kelly, it may have become worse for WhatsApp, as least initially. Business Etc. reports that a number of rival instant messaging services saw a huge increase in downloads. While people are not explicitly leaving WhatsApp, it does suggest a dissatisfaction with it being owned by Facebook. But what problem would users have with Facebook’s acquisition?
There does seem to be a general online dissatisfaction with Facebook, once the king of online interaction, and since one of the most popular social media sites in the world. Perhaps it’s the platform’s relative uncoolness with younger online users, many of whom, it’s been noted, prefer instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Or perhaps there’s a fear that, as with photo sharing app Instagram, Facebook will try to establish some form of monopoly over the service where you must have one in order to have the other.
Honestly, WhatsApp will probably flourish under the wing of a company with the resources and experience of Facebook. But Facebook itself may suffer in the future. Perhaps these acquisitions are intended to proof the company against that. Once Facebook the site goes the way of Yahoo and Myspace, it will simply be used as a portal to the more profitable mobile apps.