Few days ago Mr Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook has acquired Whatsapp. Well to be honest, I didn’t take this news very well. Why in the world would Facebook want to buy Whatsapp?? That was my first reaction. Then I did what I always do, I fired up my laptop and searched for the details, it was all over the internet. The media frenzy it had created was crazy. Internet was clogged up with articles regarding this acquisition.
This news in itself would not have created such a stir in tech community, big tech companies buy off smaller services all the time, it was actually the sum of money that Facebook was paying for a “messaging service” that sent everyone whining and twining all over the place. 19 Billion US dollars!!! Now I’m not a finance expert heck I wasn’t even good in Maths in school (one of the reasons I went for medicine) but this amount just seems crazy..and crazier for a messaging service. Facebook bought Instagram for ‘just’ 1 Billion Dollars back in 2012, and that was a photo sharing social media service, which might have given Facebook some competition in future. It paid 19 times more for Whatsapp. Its more than what Google paid for Motorola, what Microsoft paid for Nokia and what Lenovo just paid for Motorola again. Another similar IM app, Viber was bought by a Japanese company Rakuten for just 900 Million US Dollars….huh…And all this time I thought Viber was a worthy alternative to Whatsapp.
Okay well may be Mr Mark Zuckerberg is right and may be Whatsapp is worth way more than 19 billion US Dollars and I’m over reacting, just like almost everyone else on the internet. Its all left to be seen in future, just how much can Facebook profit from this buy-off. Although, Wilfred Chan of CNN has assembled a list of ten things Mark Zuckerberg could have bought instead and trust me its an eye opener!!
Anyways, my gripe with this acquisition is not about the money that Facebook has churned out. In fact it has nothing to with money at all. My grieve is personal.. Two thoughts are creeping up my mind. One, Facebook is a social media website where you share your life with your friends and where your personal info can be easily compromised, through a fake account. I know a lot of people whose profiles got hacked. So there is that. And the second thought is — Whatsapp is a chatting service where you connect with your friends and family through IMs. Whats the common ground between these two services…None!! Facebook even has its own chatting app, messenger, which essentially serves the same purpose as Whatsapp.
Mark Zuckerberg said that Whatsapp will remain independent and it will not be merged with the Facebook messenger app. So how is Facebook going to make up for the money that it spent. Whatsapp is basically a free service, they charge 1 US Dollar subscription fee after the first year of free service. And they didn’t even charge me that. My subscription was renewed for free. So how is this going to work.
In any case, if anyone doesn’t know, then let me clarify, Facebook is not a charity…its free but its not a charity. Facebook earns its bread and butter the same way every other website does. Advertisements!!! I’m no expert in this field but I think Facebook is trying to pull a Google here and they might track what Whatsapp users are more interested in and when they are on Facebook they will be shown the relevant ads. Only thinking about this, send chills down my spine. Right now its just a theory, it might not happen this way. But if it does, than it means a severe compromise of personal conversations with friends and family.
I’ve always liked Watsapp and I use it almost everyday to chat with friends and share pictures. I very specifically chose Whatsapp because it had no strings attached with any social media service, same reason why I don’t use Google Hangouts, because it is integrated with Google+. Viber is my service of choice when it comes to voice calling and Skype steps in when I need to video call.
Even if Facebook have no intentions of interfering with Whatsapp, I’ll always have my subconscious nagging me that its still under Facebooks radar. I’ll never have peace of mind again. I’ve already started to distance myself from Whatsapp and find myself avoiding it whenever I can.
I value my privacy and its always my priority to keep my life private as much as I can. So I’ve already started looking for some alternatives. One that I have my mind locked on is BBM. It is already offering a lot of features that Whatsapp does. Some of them are even better than Whatsapp like the D’s and R’s showing you that messages have been delivered and read. And I’ve heard about their security being top notch. While its very easy to interact with people on Whatsapp, if you have their number you can converse with them. On the other hand using BBM is not without its issues, you know the pin number stuff. I can handle that because at least it would be secure. But how many people would I have to convince to download BBM for me, perhaps my entire contact list. Same problems exist with other messaging apps. That is where Whatsapp totally blows the competition out of water. With 540 million current users, its adding 1 million users everyday to its folds.
I will continue my struggle to try and convince my friends and offer them better alternatives. I’ve already convinced a couple of them and now I’m waiting for the ripple effect to kick-in.
What do you think? If you agree or disagree with me or have something else to add that I’ve missed. Feel free to share your thoughts in comments.