There's a reason WhatsApp is valued at $19 billion.
The question of the week: How could a messaging app possibly be worth $19 billion? It seems that Facebook is betting big—huge—that consumers are looking to “communicate one-on-one or with very small groups, rather than sharing information more widely,” as The New York Times reports today. Younger users, especially, have reportedly become more enamored of other platforms.
Deloitte forecasts that in 2014, messaging services will deliver some 50 billion messages a day globally vs. around 21 billion SMS messages. But these apps are also becoming much more than just messaging tools—as we point out in our 100 Things to Watch for 2014, they’re evolving into retail channels as well. Japan’s Rakuten, an e-commerce giant, just made a $900 million deal for the messaging app Viber. Some apps, like China’s WeChat, also offer payment functions.