Whatsapp, the multiplatform mobile messaging app that has been one of the runaway success stories for ad-free, paid services, has been in talks to be acquired by Facebook, according to sources close to the matter.
We’re still digging around on potential price and other details about how advanced the deal is. But as mobile becomes the most bloody battleground in the Internet’s game of thrones, you can see how such a deal could make sense.
For starters, it would be another way for Facebook to continue extending its touchpoints with mobile consumer. Mark Zuckerberg asserted, on the occasion of reaching 1 billion monthly active users on Facebook, that mobile would be crucial to Facebook reaching the “next billion.”
“The big thing is obviously going to be mobile,” Zuckerberg told BusinessWeek. “There are 5 billion people in the world who have phones.”
Whatsapp also has a footprint that fits with Facebook’s focus on international/emerging markets: The messaging app has users in over a hundred countries covering 750 mobile networks, on the iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Symbian and Windows Phone platforms.
The startup also has demonstrable scale. We’ve heard the company has something like tens of millions of daily active users globally and these users utilize Whatsapp to send messages to family and friends. Every minute a user spends on Whatsapp is likely at the expense of a minute spent on Facebook.
At the end of October 2011, when the last time Whatsapp updated its usage numbers, it announced that it was serving 1 billion messages per day — “Just how much is 1 billion messages? That is 41,666,667 messages an hour, 694,444 messages a minute, and 11,574 messages a second,” the company wrote then. In August 2012, that number had grown ten-fold to 10 billion messages per day, 4 billion inbound and 6 billion outbound (because they go to more than one recipient). The app, which is built on Erlang, has the potential and ambition to grow more and wants to provide “a great mobile messaging system for a global market, regardless of your handset.”