Facebook paid over $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp in 2014. The market-leading messaging app now sits alongside Facebook Messenger in the company's messaging arsenal. Since then, Facebook's core messaging apps have been kept apart. It seemed inevitable that one day the social network would attempt to better tie them together.
Perhaps that is now happening as the New York Times reports Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to merge all of the company's messaging services. That means WhatsApp and Messenger will be integrated, and you can throw Instagram into the mix too.
It is worth noting that neither service will be removed, so all will continue as individual applications. However, Zuckerberg wants WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram to be underpinned by the same technical architecture.
The report (citing fours Facebook sources) says the development of the integration has only recently started. Completion is not expected until late 2019 or early 2020. That timeframe is due to the massive task of changing the underlying tech of three complicated and individual services. In fact, thousands of employees are said to be working on the multi-configuration.
Zuckerberg is attempting to repair Facebook's damaged reputation following a 2018 filled with scandal. The under-fire founder of the company believes creating a unified technology will help. Not least because WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram can all now have end-to-end encryption.
In a statement to NYT, Facebook stressed its commitment to messaging, but did not confirm any redevelopment plans. The company wants to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.”
“We're working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”
One of the obvious benefits of unifying its messaging service is enticing users to stay within its ecosystem. Currently, all three applications are separate. People may use Instagram for photo-based social media but may not feel any need to stay with Facebook for messaging. The company will hope tying the services together may appeal to users to stay within the ecosystem.
It is worth remembering both WhatsApp and Instagram were once independent companies. Facebook acquired both the services, WhatsApp in 2014 and Instagram in 2012 for what now seems a bargain $1 billion. Zuckerberg has always been eager for both services to continue as independent companies.
Under that model, WhatsApp has thrived, recently becoming Facebook's most used service. Instagram has also soared in popularity, becoming many persons favored social network. At the same time, Facebook's core network has been severely damaged by privacy and data scandals. In other words, by tying Messenger into WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook is getting the goodwill from those two services.