Twenty years ago today, an English engineer by the name of Neil Papworth sent the first SMS text message ever. He wrote “Merry Christmas” to a cell phone company official and the rest, as they say, is history.
Flash forward to today and text messaging has become an integral part of communicating, but now it’s slowly being supplanted with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. On the text message’s 20th anniversary, something big may happen in the messaging world.
TechCrunch speculated on Sunday that Facebook, the world’s biggest social media site, may have their eyes set on popular messaging app WhatsApp. This could be another attempt by Facebook to increase its presence in the mobile market like they did with their Instagram buy several months ago.
For those unfamiliar with WhatsApp, it’s one of the biggest independent apps you may have never heard of. Basically, it lets you send text, video, audio and photo messages for free anywhere in the world through WiFi or data services. You can create an account by adding your phone number as a username.
Unlike many of the more popular social media and messaging apps, WhatsApp is not free, yet is one of the most downloaded apps on iTunes and Google Play. For Apple users, it’s 99 cents while Android users have it free for the first year and 99 cents annually thereafter. This steady stream of income could entice possible buyers like Facebook, which is trying to monetize mobile content through advertising.
Even though AllThingsD has put cold water on Facebook’s possible acquisition of WhatsApp at the moment, don’t count Facebook or any buyer to retreat just yet. With 100 million-plus users, WhatsApp is something that the big new media players can’t ignore. Conversely, WhatsApp can spurn these potential buyouts and remain an independent, paid and ad-free app to compete with other social media networks.