It’s a new week but the world is still digesting the news of last weeks’ massive acquisition deal of Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion. Telecom companies globally may not be affected by the deal but it is a fact that messaging and voice apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Line, etc. have been a matter of concern for the telecom companies as they have been eating their revenues massively. And a latest report by Ovum predicts that the shares of messaging apps are growing to go big and hit the telecos severely.
According to a study by analyst firm Ovum, global telecom companies will lose $386 billion between 2012 and 2018 from customers using over-the-top VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) solutions such as Skype and Microsoft Lync. These losses will be mostly from international call revenues and roaming services. The companies lost $32.5 billion in texting fees in 2013 and the figure is projected to reach $54 billion by 2016.
Indian telecom companies are no exception and even if they deny the fact that acquisitions like these doesn’t impact their business but at the same time they are feeling the heat. Talking on the same Prasun Kumar, Head, brand and marketing at RCom added that, “From the business perspective, we don’t see any change as neither Facebook nor WhatsApp has any revenue-sharing arrangement with telecom operators.”
However, the operators are trying to see the road ahead with business tie ups with the messaging apps. WhatsApp that has more than 35M active monthly users in the country last year tied up with Tata Docomo to offer unlimited WhatsApp usage to its subscribers at Rs. 15 for 15 days. Prior to this the messaging company had tied up with Reliance as part of a promotion for its GSM subscribers; the tie-up was considered to be a success.
Messaging apps like WeChat, Line and Hike – which recently branded itself as India’s number one youth messaging app – are eying for such deals to create a strong presence in the country. This is also the way forward for operators if they would like to be present in the messaging space when consumers are clearly choosing messaging apps over cost and ease. The recent acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion by Facebook and Viber by Rakuten for $900 million is a testimony of the changing times.