Facebook has announced plans to acquire WhatsApp for approximately $16 billion. But users of the popular mobile chat service have been told by WhatsApp officials that nothing about the service will change.
The biggest question for users might be whether the acquisition will eventually lead to advertising on WhatsApp. The mobile platform has remained staunchly opposed to selling ads relying on a very low annual membership charge for its profits.
In a post on the official WhatsApp blog, CEO Jan Koum explained:
“WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you’re using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.”
For those using WhatsApp as an inexpensive texting service, advertising would make little difference at first, anyway. That is unless, as on Facebook, it eventually means extra costs to reach your entire network.
Small business owners and marketers have noticed that since the introduction of sponsored posts on Facebook, it can be difficult to get the exposure you once had for free while posting to your network.
On the other hand, for those seeking access to WhatsApp’s younger demographic, some kind of advertising service might offer an easier way to target that group.
WhatsApp is one of the social media communities seeing more participation from users in a younger demographic as teenagers are reportedly less interested in Facebook than they once were.
Facebook says it will acquire WhatsApp for a combination of $4 billion in cash and another $12 billion in Facebook shares.
In an official announcement from the Facebook Newsroom, the company insisted it was attracted by WhatsApp’s huge following including 450 million active members who use the app each month. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder and CEO, said:
“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable. I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”
It is, of course, uncertain as yet, how Facebook will capitalize off this traffic without resorting to advertising. It also remains to be seen how much affect the Facebook acquisition will really have on the WhatsApp community.
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