Social Media & Life in Thailand

A humble blog of a Czech guy working with Social Media and living in Bangkok, Thailand.

Starting my 14th year of delivering the commercial messages of all kinds using Digital Media. I have used Social Media before they were called Social Media, and I wonder every day about the miracle of the real-life human-to-human connections enhance by technology.

ON FACEBOOK's WHATSAPP ACQUISITION

Originally written as a BAM SMS blog post 

WhatsApp is an instant messaging application that allows user to chat both textually and using images (emoticons or photographs), send files and make virtual phone calls. On average, a Thai man or women pulls out from pocket or purse his or her mobile phone 138 times per day. Instant messaging applications’ “beeps” are responsible for more than half of cases. WhatsApp (WA) has over 450 000 000 active users with 70 % using the application daily (!),  reaching half of the user base of Facebooku. (In addition, as WA sends a profile-prooving SMS to every new user, it has way less problems with fake and dual profiles as Facebook has). More importantly though, WA, as its competing services like Line or WeChat owns highly valuable set of data of every customer, with rights to access several important functions and data repositories of user’s device:

  • Name
  • Username, often connected to other Social Media service, typically Twitter
  • Phone number and the mobile operator used
  • User’s location and user’s routine movement pattern thanks to it
  • Social network created within other app users
  • Contact list on user’s device
  • Photos
  • URLs user states in his/her profile
  • In a segment of users, their Credit Card numbers and details or other payment method (PayPal, mobile payment)

Joint press material of Facebook and WA on the acquisition says, cited, that: “The acquisition supports Facebook and WhatsApp’s shared mission to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably.” Couple days ago, we had the ooportunity to speak with Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, who is the respect e-coomerce guru of Thailand, owning and managing tarad.com, Thai’s leading e-shop service. Pawoot sold recently part of his company to Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten – which, app. one week ago, bought a very similar service to WattsApp: Viber. Rakuten, owning domains such as buy.com, is definitely not on a mission to “bringing more contectivity and utility to the world”. Rakuten’s mission is business. Accoring to Pawoot, Rakuten has recently seen a very dynamic growth of sales leads coming from, guess what: instant messaging services. What is even more important, growing number of sales closed right in the app itself. This trend seems to be global as it has been observed on Japanese, Amercian and southasian platforms, with Pawoot’s tarad.com measuring the same results as Rakuten group. Additionally, Line (300 million users), Viber (225 milions), Chinese WeChat (300 million in China, 100 milion abroad) went the freemium model way while offering “stickers”, emoticons that are very basic in the free app but offer a broad variaty of customization and creativity with paid packages of pandas, bears and many other characters.Commented by Rakuten’s CEO while explaining why they spent 900 million USD on an instant messaging service: “…Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform.”

Mark Zuckerberg might be on his mission to connect the world together. But he certainly knows how to make profit and he can have his 19 billion USD back very soon.

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