IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Facebook, WhatsApp and the price of messaging

In its largest-ever acquisition, Facebook's $19bn deal is about growth, but it could be at the expense of conventional telcos.

Those SMS charges are hugely profitable for operators, but they have also persuaded younger mobile phone users, in particular, to switch to services such as WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). It has also prompted operators to bundle more and more texts with their plans. EE, currently the UK's largest network, includes unlimited texts with its 4G plans.

This suggests that services such as WhatsApp are taking some of that valuable business from the operators.

Ovum, the industry analyst firm, predicts that the telcos' mobile messaging service will peak this year, at 7.7 trillion messages worldwide, and will then fall back. The firm's survey of "OTT" or internet-based messaging points to 27.4 trillion messages last year and 68.9 trillion this year. WhatsApp alone claims to have delivered 36 billion messages in one day.

According to Eden Zoller, principal analyst for telecoms at Ovum, buying WhatsApp is part of a growth strategy for Facebook. Especially, the company wants to grow its mobile user base and revenues. WhatsApp's large subscriber base is a ready way to do this.

The growth in OTT services, though, could yet bring hidden costs to businesses. As more mobile subscribers abandon conventional SMS in favour of social messaging such as WhatsApp, operators will need to switch their attention to data services, such as their 4G networks.

Operators could be forgiven for increasing the cost of "legacy" services such as SMS, leading to higher prices for business services that depend on them.

Perhaps CIOs should ask any teenagers in their households for a quick WhatsApp demo.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro.

Featured Resources

2023 Strategic roadmap for data security platform convergence

Capitalise on your data and share it securely using consolidated platforms

Free Download

The 3D trends report

Presenting one of the most exciting frontiers in visual culture

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Cloud Pak® for Watson AIOps with Instana

Cost savings and business benefits

Free Download

Leverage automated APM to accelerate CI/CD and boost application performance

Constant change to meet fast-evolving application functionality

Free Download

Recommended

WhatsApp to combat internet blackouts with proxy server support
encryption

WhatsApp to combat internet blackouts with proxy server support

6 Jan 2023
WhatsApp Communities to unify workplace group chats, expand functionality
collaboration

WhatsApp Communities to unify workplace group chats, expand functionality

3 Nov 2022
Move to business messaging and let richer connections begin
Whitepaper

Move to business messaging and let richer connections begin

12 Sep 2022
Talking to a business should feel like messaging a friend
Whitepaper

Talking to a business should feel like messaging a friend

12 Sep 2022

Most Popular

What's powering Britain’s fibre broadband boom?
Network & Internet

What's powering Britain’s fibre broadband boom?

3 Feb 2023
Dutch hacker steals data from virtually entire population of Austria
data breaches

Dutch hacker steals data from virtually entire population of Austria

26 Jan 2023
Windows 10 users locked out of devices by unskippable Microsoft 365 advert
bugs

Windows 10 users locked out of devices by unskippable Microsoft 365 advert

3 Feb 2023