Has Zuckerberg bought a pup?
The WhatsApp purchase may have been a smart move for Facebook - time will tell. No doubt Zuckerberg and his advisors have spent time pondering the numbers to decide that WhatsApp is a stayer. The virality they could see happening was presumably judged too far advanced to be easily disrupted by another messaging player.
But is it? One wonders whether they’ve underestimated the impact of HTML5 and WebRTC as game-changers. What these two bring to the table is new rules: ad hoc real-time communications between just about any device or Web location. No need for an app when a simple click or touch can - or soon will - do the trick for all forms of instant or otherwise messaging - text, picture, voice and video.
Opera has just announced an update of its Opera for Android mobile browser which makes the point. Opera claims that, with the upgrade, “another task that previously required an app is possible right from the web browser of your Android phone: we are talking about video chat across mobile phones and computers… in short, you can visit a website to start a video call with anyone using a WebRTC-compatible browser...”
It’s not just Opera. There’s been plenty of cross-browser messaging going on already - instances of WebRTC working between Chrome and Firefox have been common well back in 2013.
And at MWC 14 I spoke with Giles Corbett, head of Orange’s Libon service who demonstrated the browser-based messaging he’d had built as an adjunct to the core service (see - Libon adds ‘open chat’ to its messaging app)
The messaging story isn’t over yet.