It’s a billion dollar question: Why did Facebook pay so much for a mobile messaging app. The answers, strangely, might lie in India.
Facebook has over 93 million users in India, of which, 75 million access the social network from mobile devices. The company does not share how many have Facebook Chat Instant Messenger on their smartphones, but it is much lower compared to people using WhatsApp, which has over 30 million users in India alone.
“The Facebook-WhatsApp deal highlights the increasing importance of the messaging space and the role it will play in mobile-internet going forward,” says Kavin Bharti Mittal, whose messaging app ‘Hike’ just crossed 15 million downloads.
“We’re seeing India following a similar growth trajectory, especially in the messaging space; with the proliferation of cheaper smartphones and data plans,” says Mittal.
Interestingly, about 80 per cent of Hike’s users are under 25 years.
Recent reports suggest that the youth have been moving away from Facebook. WhatsApp, on the other hand, is the fastest growing messaging app. The acquisition is a way of future-proofing growth, especially in a young country like India.
Dippak Khurana, CEO & co-founder of mobile advertising platform Vserv.mobi says, “Whatsapp is the most successful and fastest growing social communication app and has the sharpest growth trajectory compared to other social communication platforms. This makes it a strong logical extension to Facebook’s ‘connecting the world’ goal, by helping them develop new mobile experiences which until recently was restricted to the Facebook app.”
Anubhuv Nayyar, country head, Viber Media Inc, creators of another popular messaging app that was picked up by Japanese tech giant Rakuten Inc last week, says, “Everyone is focussing on what the consumer wants in the end and have different strategies to achieve this.”.
Nayyar adds that it is impossible to deny the fact many segments, especially the youth, have started spending more time on messaging apps than social networks.
India, with its ever increasing number of smartphone users, will be high on the agenda for both Facebook and WhatsApp in the coming months.