WhatsApp, the hit messaging and communication app that was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion is about to hit 1 billion users. It is the second most popular app on this planet after Facebook itself. As a cheap way to communicate in various ways, WhatsApp wins, it’s clear. It is especially popular in foreign countries where the costs of calling and texting can be somewhat more expensive than in the US. However, the service still doesn’t have many solid ways of bringing in revenue, which is something we have seen with other social services like Snapchat.
WhatsApp’s previous business model was that it would be free for 1 year, and then after that it would cost $1 per year. However, now they plan to drop the $1 fee and explore other revenue streams. WhatsApp is mainly used by consumers communicating with friends and family, but more and more these days it is used by businesses who want to communicate with potential customers and loyal fans. Jan Koum, founder of the company sees this area as the place where revenue can come from.
“We’ve taken SMS technology for consumers and improved it. Now, we want to do the same with commercial messaging.” he said. They’ve already started doing this in certain spheres. Instead of having to call a restaurant to make a reservation, you can send a restaurant a message and make the reservation that way. This is convenient because maybe you are also already communicating with the people who the reservation is with on WhatsApp anyways. This desire to capitalize on business messaging and bots is following the trend of Facebook and Google who are working on AI chat bots that you can interact with to get things done. Facebook has already teamed up with Uber to let you order a car through the Messenger chat service.
Whether or not this will work depends on if consumers are willing to learn a new way of doing things. Sure some people might want less apps, but do they want to overcome that learning curve when they can already open other apps and get the same services.
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