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.
Welcome to 2014! Before I embark on my 7th consecutive year of mobile industry predictions, let’s wrap up 2013 with a review of last year’s predictions. Overall, it has been another exciting, challenging, but overall profitable year for the mobile industry. We saw some rises and falls, new iPads, a new iPhone, new Samsung devices, new mobile OS’s, consolidations, acquisitions, as well as a myriad of new products and innovations.
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.
For the sixth consecutive year, I am happy and honored to offer my 2013 mobile industry predictions, along with a review of how well I did for 2012. This year has been another banner year for mobile: Everything from Apple news to networks (LTE deployments and RCS as well) to mobile commerce. Today, an ever-increasing number of subscribers are using smartphones and that is a growing, worldwide phenomenon. In fact, in many markets, smartphone penetration has exceeded 50% and continues to grow.
No, this won’t be a 2012 type prediction of Armageddon! But the mobile industry has begun the inevitable and likely irrevocable evolution towards an all IP ecosystem. This also means that services – basic services such as voice and messaging have already begun to go IP – or “over-the-top” (OTT) ahead of equivalent offerings from the network providers themselves.