WhatsApp announced 2 things today.
The company will now share your number with Facebook (not the message content).
The company is opening up its platform for businesses (slow/phased manner).
"we want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam. Whether it's hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls."
While point 1 is leading to outrage (just like any privacy update is), let's talk about #2.
I think this is the last straw on SMS (which will turn 24 years on Dec 3rd).
WhatsApp killed the P2P use case of SMS and this will now totally take away the business ->consumer part.
Well, lets just agree that WhatsApp is not an app or a messaging service - it has become the communication OS for the world (except China).
And when you are a product at scale - you do design for massive scale, which is why bringing commerce may not be the most relevant use case (too many operational hassles/quality control challenges).
But once you bring businesses to the platform - you are a much bigger and important player than anybody around.
When you own the customer and customer's customers - you own a lot !
In future, expect OTPs to be WhatsApped, expect businesses to only use WhatsApp for all updates (it's already happening in India in a big way) and well, transactions too happening on the platform.
WhatsApp Vs. WeChat/Hike
WhatsApp will let WeChat win commerce war / Hike : funding war.
All it wants to be is just one thing : the communication OS and won't let anybody else win the communication/ messaging war.
Now think of success metrics for WhatsApp's Business product ? Number of times the app is opened ? Engagement? NO - that's so web 1.0 for the company! (the app will be opened >>> sum of all others in your phone), if they get this integration right.
My sense is that WhatsApp will make every other messaging product irrelevant - by bringing in businesses and developing an entire ecosystem around business communication.
And add Facebook messenger/bot to this story - and you know where Facebook is headed. They own consumer chatter and now they will own business->consumer communication too.