Over the last few weeks, the world remained riveted to the various games of the World Cup 2014.  Some were early disappointments such as Spain; however, many were surprised just how far their own country made it into the final tournament.  Social media and mobile engagement were also big winners in the 2014 World Cup.  These channels are immensely popular today and will continue to grow in influence as they are now part of most people’s daily lives.  Both Facebook and Twitter had set usage records during the World Cup final.  In fact, the Wall Street Journal article noted that Twitter beat its own record of 580,166 Tweets per minute during Germany’s defeat of Brazil in the semi-final by reaching 618,725 tweets per minute during the Argentina – Germany final.

Over the last 4 to 5 years, the world has witnessed a meteoric rise of a variety of Over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps – both for consumers and enterprises.  Today, there are a dizzying variety of texting choices — most of them operating as “islands” (albeit some are exceedingly large – WhatsApp with over 500 million monthly active users [MAUs] is a prime example); however, in some markets such as the United States and Canada, SMS-interoperable OTT messaging solutions have garnered the majority share of OTT messaging apps (we call these SMS-enabled OTT messaging providers: NUVOs – for Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operators).

Since the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, just prior to the 2014 Mobile World Congress, there has been considerable press about Facebook and WhatsApp.  In the last few days, the latest headlines have been about how WhatsApp handled a record 64 billion messages in a 24 hour period.  That is a fantastic number and it represents magnificent growth.  I’m not trying to take away from this brilliant achievement, but I must point out that WhatsApp subscribers didn’t really generate 64 billion messages.

In the late afternoon on Wednesday, February 19th (Eastern Time, USA), Facebook announced that it was acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash, stock, and restricted stock.   While I’m not a financier, I think $19 billion was a bit much as I’ve read that it roughly translates to $42 or so per WhatsApp subscriber.  I think it was a good move, nonetheless.

When you think of SMS messaging, typically people refer to messaging via mobile phones through Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).  Over the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of the so-called NUVOs – Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operator – a type of OTT service provider who offers phone number based and app-based messaging on smart devices that also interworks with the existing SMS ecosystem. This means that a NUVO subscriber can send and receive messages from an AT&T or a T-Mobile or Verizon subscriber.

When the devastating EF-5 tornado smashed through Newcastle and Moore, Oklahoma on Monday afternoon, 20th of May, 2013, destroying everything in its path, taking 24 lives and injuring scores more, still it could have been much worse.  The National Weather Service issued the initial tornado warning a full 36 minutes before the tornado began to cross through Moore.  This type of lead-time saves lives and people in the Plains states – “Tornado Alley” – certainly pay heed to these warnings.

A few days ago, BBC News published: “Payments by text message service to launch in UK in Spring 2014.”  I found this story fascinating – not that payments may be made by text message, as it’s been done for years in various markets such as in Kenya.  One can also send money via smartphones, using apps, today as well.   No, what is fascinating is that text messaging is once again the bearer of this payment information.