Social Media: Facebook vs WhatsApp ?

Everything is on mobile these days. Be it our glasses (Google Glass) or payments, it’s becoming increasingly on the move, one device world. Social Media is starting to feel the pressure. A study by Nielsen and McKinsey shows that for social media, consumption time spent on mobile apps and mobile websites accounted for a 63% increase (compared to 2011) in total time spent. Further 61% smartphone users access social media on mobile. So much so that, even the big guns like Google and Facebook also are showing apt interest in mobile. Let’s take a closer look at their efforts.
Google’s Hangout Re-Branding
Google re-branded “Hangouts” in May 2013 as a new unified, cross-platform messaging system, replacing GTalk to catch on to the increasing OTT (Over the Top) messaging landscape, a clear indication of the company’s belief in the power of mobile. The app supposedly has 50 million downloads till date.
Facebook’s Mobile Botch-up
Facebook tried to get its feet in the space but it has not run into any luck yet. One of the company’s ventures into mobile is FB poke, a mobile app launched in Dec 2012. It was a blatant copy of Snapchat (a popular app for sending pics) but failed to get traction. The other being, Facebook Home, it’s an all-encompassing app for mobile which has failed miserably – The app has a measly one-star rating on Google Play store and AT&T dropped the price from $99 to 99 cents of HTC First (FB Home based phone) due to less demand. Mobile Social Networks
To make more sense of mobile social world let’s look at the ways users engage on mobile. There are two ways – Pure Social Networks (One to followers/friends like Instagram) and OTTs (One to one like WhatsApp or WeChat). The OTT world is surging as of now. The volume of OTT messaging traffic is set to be twice of SMS by end of this year. Another opportunity is the gap of social engagement in OTTs that a new breed of startups, built ground up for mobile is solving by combining the two ways of engagement on mobile. They aim to serve the purpose of a unified platform for rich media messaging and media sharing. They have shown great traction also. Let’s look at a few below.

Pheed Launched in late 2012, it allows users to text, photo, audio, video and broadcast. Has one million users as of February 2013
Just.me – Launched in April 2013 by TechCrunch co-founder and backed by Khosla Ventures, the app combines the best of rich media messaging and media sharing. Has 100k installs as of May 2013
What’s Next?As you can make out it’s Web based social behemoths (read Facebook and Google) versus these startups built from ground up for mobile. While pure OTTs like WhatsApp and WeChat currently have a lead in terms of number of users but they need to keep adding features and pivot towards a more social angle to survive, or one of the new startups or Facebook/Google will surge ahead. Mobile Social Media is a very lucrative market as smartphones are increasingly becoming an extension of oneself, serving purpose as basic as calls to being our wallets. The next frontier is social and jury is still out on who will fulfill that need.

Reports Used in this Article:
1) http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/2012/
2) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.talk&hl=en
3) http://www.businessinsider.com/everyone-is-talking-about-how-facebook-tried–and-failed–to-copy-yet-another-popular-startup-2012-12
4) http://techcrunch.com/2013/05/13/rumor-att-to-discontinue-the-htc-first-facebook-phone/
5) http://techcrunch.com/2013/05/18/the-future-of-mobile-social-could-spell-the-end-for-social-networks/
6) https://commerce.informatm.com/reports/main/voip-ip-messaging-revised.html
7) http://www.minyanville.com/sectors/technology/articles/Did-The-IPhone-Have-A-Role/5/15/2013/id/49845


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