WhatsApp reaches 500 Million users!

Whatsapp & Facebook

Popular IM service WhatsApp has reached the 500 million users milestone. And it’s not just the total number of users the service has but active users who use the service regularly.

This comes shortly after the company was acquired by Facebook, although WhatsApp had a healthy 450 million users at the time of acquisition. The majority of the growth comes from countries like Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia, with India alone having 48 million WhatsApp users.

Whatsapp

One of the reason the service is so popular in developing nations is sheer number of platforms the service is available on, which includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian and S40, unlike many other services that are only available on iOS and Android.

The service has remained unaltered since the Facebook acquisition and is expected to remain that way.

Facebook is buying WhatsApp for $19 billion!

Facebook has announced this afternoon that it has reached a deal to acquire WhatsApp, the makers of the popular cross-platform messaging app, for a staggering $16 billion. That’s $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion in Facebook shares.

The social network says that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently after the acquisition, but claims the deal with WhatsApp—who has nearly 500 million users—”accelerates Facebook’s ability to bring connectivity and utility to the world.”

From the press release:

“Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WhatsApp, a rapidly growing cross-platform mobile messaging company, for a total of approximately $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing.

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. The combination will help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies. 

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”

The company also provided some WhatsApp growth stats:

  • Over 450 million people using the service each month;
  • 70% of those people active on a given day;
  • Messaging volume approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume; and
  • Continued strong growth, currently adding more than 1 million new registered users per day.

Additionally, Facebook says that it will be paying WhatsApp a $1 billion break-up fee if the acquisition some how falls through, and it will be hosting a conference call at 3PM PST today to discuss further details. You can listen in on that call by clicking here.

Admittedly, $16 billion (potentially $19 billion) sounds like a crazy amount for a messaging app—especially compared to the $3 billion that Facebook reportedly offered Snapchat last year. But not many services boast an active user base of half-a-billion.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. If you want to see what WhatsApp is all about, you can find it in the App Store here.

Facebook reveals its first TV ad for Facebook Home

Facebook has just revealed its first television commercial for Facebook Home, which is set to hit your television sets soon. The commercial is titled “Airplane” and it centers around a man who livens up his business trip by bringing his friends “on the journey with him”. Every time he scrolls across his Cover Feed, someone will appear, whether its his friends in the overhead luggage compartments, drag queens popping up all around him, or his nephew smothered in chocolate cake.

The commercial also shows off the upcoming AT&T exclusive HTC First, which will come with an embedded version of Facebook Home. The embedded version of Facebook Home features minor differences to the downloaded version, with the main difference being better app notifications integrated into the Cover Feed feature. The HTC First itself is a low-to-mid ranged phone that you will be able topurchase for $99 on a new two-year contract with AT&T. If you want the phone, but don’t want Facebook Home, you can check out our guide to de-programming the embedded Facebook Home launcher.

Facebook Home follows Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy that phones should revolve around people, and not apps. It brings your friend’s closer to you through features like the Cover Feed as well as Chat Head Messaging, which lets you message your friends even while you’re in another app. It will also have Instagram-like features where you can double-tap a photo to like it.

Both HTC First and Facebook Home are set to be released on April 12th. You can download the Facebook Home app for free from the Google Play store. The app will bring all of your friend’s status updates and photos to the forefront of your Android device, but how many of us actually want that? We should know once the app launches