From GCAiLabs: What’s Up With Facebook?

by John Garvey, James Garvey, and John Costello

Our take on where “The Social Network” is going:

Mark Zuckerberg is focused on billions. Facebook, with 1.3 billion current users, paid $19 billion for the messaging service WhatsApp, a price he called cheap, and is predicting that it will have a billion users itself.  Now, unless you have been elected to congress and talk in terms of trillions of dollars of debt, a billion dollars is a big deal. How big? Well according to one expert, a stack of a billion one dollar bills would reach over 63 miles high!


So, $19 billion would be, ah…like really higher than that!

You’d be surprised how much you can get for less than the price of WhatsApp.

Here is what Greg Gomer of BostInno is predicting. “When Wi-Fi is finally everywhere, and it will happen, Facebook via WhatsApp could essentially become your default communication tool. You can message and make calls all within one app – essentially for free. You will also be able to shrink down your current phone bill as you’ll no longer need a bunch of minutes.”

To figure out just what is up with WhatsApp, we put our two best social media scientists on the case.

James:  Does WhatsApp have the potential to revolutionize the conventional cell phone contract as we know it? Oh yeah. Before you flip Verizon the bird and pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate the demise of greedy service providers everywhere, we should discuss Facebook’s $19 billion dollar project a bit further.

John: I can already message contacts for free using iMessage & SMS service on my iPhone and those messages can be viewed across multiple Apple devices like the iPad and desktop Mac, whereas WhatsApp is only available on smartphones.

James: But WhatsApp is also free to users for the first year and only 99 cents a year after that. However its features do still require the use of your carriers data plan – and if you’re roaming… Whoa boy are you going to get a surprise come your next billing cycle!

John: Some other mobile messaging services seem to provide more utility, such as Kik which offers in-app browsing and sharing. There are several other apps including Line, Google Hangouts and Skype that can be accessed through multiple devices including desktop PCs.

James: Obviously you’re wondering why Facebook would pay $19 billion for an application that exactly replicates the functionality of many other online calling/messaging applications and is somewhat redundant due to the increased offerings of “unlimited calling & texting” from mobile services providers… Were you wondering that? Because if so I’m about to disappoint you.

John: I think everyone is, $19 billion isn’t pocket change, even for Zuckerberg.

James: Nobody knows. Yeah sure, your friend’s mom has some theory about the Facebook acquisition; WhatsApp offers a large user base overseas, Facebook wants to own online messaging, but the truth is it’s all speculation.

John: I’m not sure I’ll be switching to WhatsApp for instant messaging any time soon. For one thing, only about 1/8th of my contacts are on WhatsApp. Maybe if WhatsApp can gain enough U.S. brand recognition as a result of being acquired by Facebook that it eventually consumes a larger share of my contact list I might be influenced to change my app of choice.

James: Facebook only bought WhatsApp because they knew Google wanted it, or maybe it’s another mobile friendly push by the social networking giant. Personally? Who cares. I’m not asking my friends to download another app – unless it’s an app for downloading that bottle of champagne we discussed earlier…