In the aftermath of WhatsApp being purchased by Facebook, the Wall Street Journal interviews messaging service LINE's Jun Masuda:
WSJ: Why are messaging apps getting so much attention lately?
Masuda: I think people in the U.S. are starting to see how much potential messaging services have, and what kinds of monetization models are possible. But in Asia, messaging apps are already the hottest part of mobile services.
The amount that Facebook is offering to buy WhatsApp is not excessively high. This is a proof of how valuable smartphone messaging has become in the age of mobile.
When everyone was using a browser on a PC to access the Internet, portal sites with search functions served as the gateway to all the other online content and services. People spent a lot of time on those sites.
In the age of smartphones, people access services through apps instead of browsers. In the world of mobile apps, messaging and other communications services play major roles because people use them very frequently and spend a lot of time on them.
Some messaging apps may choose to keep things simple and offer little more than messaging, but we think that messaging services can play central roles in the mobile era like portals did in the PC era.
Google and now Facebook may be old school “portals”, but unlike companies of yore, they're both remarkably willing to adapt aggressively to changing times…evolution by acquisition no matter what the cost.