Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion is the biggest tech acquisition. While the world has been shocked and debates are still on about the price tag, Google does not seem to be bothered. Reason being it does not compete with them in the small and medium business segment (SMB).
While Google’s VP and Global Head of SMBs, Allan Thygesen acknowledges that WhatsApp has been a terrific example in the messaging space, he doesn’t seem to be worried.
“I think that WhatsApp is a terrific example of new messaging services. And they have done a fantastic job creating utility that was great for the businesses and consumers. However, in terms of acquiring new customers, it is not really as obvious how Whatsapp is useful. So, I am not worried about WhatsApp as a competitor to destabilising our presence or competitor for Adwords.”
Thygesen made this remark yesterday in Hyderabad while sharing how Google is working on to bring about innovation in messaging, including Google Hangout so that small business could benefit from it.
With more than 200 million internet users in India, Google plans to help half a million SMBs in India to go online by the end of next year. Google says it has 1,200 partners across India to help SMBs manage their businesses online. In the last two years, it claims to have enabled 300,000 SMBs to go online.
Right now out of the 50 million SMBs in India, only five percent have online presence. However, K. Suryanarayana, Head of SMBs, Google India believes that the proliferation of smartphone’s in the country will bring more users online.
With India being tagged as the world’s fastest growing smartphone market in Q4 2013 and the $8 billion e-commerce market all set to explode in the coming years, Google seems to be placing its bets in the right fashion on the Indian SMBs.
Google helps SMBs to get started online by creating a website, a social page, a mobile ready site and also bring them on Google Search, Google Maps and on other media like YouTube. However messaging is one piece that has been missing from its services and it is very much required by SMBs. Google Hangouts has been effective but in emerging countries it is a challenge with fragile average broadband speeds and it also lacks the ease of a messaging app like WhatsApp.
While the world was going berserk during the Facebook and Whatsapp deal, strong rumors had erupted that Google was also in the race to acquire WhatsApp. However Google has quashed all such rumors. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai called news reports that Google tried to acquire WhatsApp for $10 billion before it was snapped up by Facebook for $19 billion “simply untrue.”
With WhatsApp going into Facebook’s kitty, Google may say that they are not affected by the deal but the messaging piece is missing from their kit and WhatsApp will compete in the SMB section. With very few options left in the messaging world, it would be interesting to observe whether Google will try to crack it from scratch or leave it as an unfinished goal.
Image credit: NDTV Gadgets