WhatsApp vs. Messenger… But both belong to Facebook?!

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Who doesn’t know WhatsApp? It’s our daily form of communication in the Netherlands, even becoming a verb here and it has 800 million users worldwide. Now what about Messenger? It is certainly also well-known with 600 million active users worldwide, but it is an application that seems to be forcing itself on us. This seemed to be the reaction when Facebook decided to stop integrating the mobile application of Facebook and its Messenger services within the application back in August 2014. The funny thing? Facebook owns WhatsApp. What’s going on?!

Let’s dive into the details of the two different messaging services. While WhatsApp is linked to your phone number in able to contact others, Messenger requires you to have a Facebook account to contact others. You can contact other Facebook users or contact people through phone numbers. Both use the internet to transfer messages. Now both sound awfully similar but it’s the small differences that count.

The real question is, why does Facebook have two messaging applications under its wing. Facebook  bought  WhatsApp for $19 billion earlier this year and this made Facebook own 79% of the IM market. According to Zuckerberg, the Messenger application is meant to be much more than just a messaging service and will soon become Messenger Platform. While WhatsApp did not change much after it was bought, Messenger underwent changes with added functionalities such as video- and voice calls and peer-to-peer payments.

The reason for these changes? WhatsApp isn’t meant to be a platform service, it is trying to focus on its voice services and Web product. Facebook Messenger will handle all the platform ambitions, which it seems to be doing well. The next step is for Messenger to become a real platform that will also be accessible to non-developers. Users will be able to create and share content within the application and enrichen conversations. Facebook and WhatsApp both agree that it is possible for the two of them to coexist, with Facebook stating that WhatsApp is growing in developing countries and Messenger is focused on developed countries. The truth can only be revealed in time.

Messenger appears to be taking over a lot of functionality in our lives. According to Zuckerberg, this is only the beginning. They say they are only 1% finished, so let’s see what the other 99% holds for us in the future.







4 responses to “WhatsApp vs. Messenger… But both belong to Facebook?!”

  1. Jord says :

    Interesting article. I actually believe there is only one reason Facebook bought WhatsApp, and it’s not for its functionality: it is the users. If Facebook holds their promise on expanding their messenger app to a complete messenger platform, they are going to want to have all the users. Network effects are probably the sole reason for the buy-out. It’s easier to migrate users from one application to the other, when you own both of them.

  2. 376833ml says :

    Thank you for your contribution Jord! I agree that Facebook probably didn’t buy WhatsApp for its functionality, after all, when they bought WhatsApp it honestly did not have many functions anyawys beside its main function as a messaging app. Sharing locations etc. could already be done on both apps. It will be interesting to see what will happen when users really do migrate from WhatsApp to Messenger, as they are now both owned by Facebook obviously.

  3. 357174ar says :

    I think that both applications will be able to co-exist, since they are used in different situations. When you want to send someone a quick message whatsapp is a lot easier to use, especially when Facebook turns messenger into a platform. I think that with that, Messenger will take more of a role Skype has now, which is mostly used when you want to have a longer conversation instead of a quick few words on the go

  4. gauravk2145 says :

    Good article. I personally feel there are differences between these both and there is no competition between these two services.
    FB messenger started just as a supplement to facebook’s social networking services and is now entering into mainstream IM. We have a lot of friends of facebook who are not very close friends of us and whose phone number we don’t bother to ask. FB messenger enables to chat with those people.

    The main difference – social network driven vs phone number driven is a core factor why these both services will continue to exist independently in the future.
    Hope facebook does not make a mess of it by doing crazy stuff like introducing social network on whatsapp.

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