What’s Up Next For Meta? WhatsApp

Americans Hooked on SMS

Outside of the US, Meta Platforms’ (FB) WhatsApp is the dominant player in terms of mobile messaging services. Throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America more people use WhatsApp than any other service when it comes to texting. Americans, meanwhile, are more likely to use Apple’s (AAPL) default iPhone app known as iMessage, which uses SMS technology.

Meta has been running an ad campaign to try and get more people to make the switch. Industry observers say while the company has shifted its focus toward the metaverse, social media platforms remain its bread-and-butter business, highlighting WhatsApp’s importance. Right now, data shows around 19% of Americans use WhatsApp to text.

Google’s Answer

Meta isn’t alone in its attempt to make inroads in the text messaging market. Google (GOOGL) is rolling out an SMS replacement to compete with iMessage called RCS, or Rich Communication Services. The company says it’s more secure and modern than SMS, which is 30-year old technology.

Although the technology looks promising, critics say the rollout process has been slow and clunky. Currently, 500 million people have adopted its use globally, but that number is hovering just around 40 million within the US. Google says its RCS better communicates with iMessage, including the ability to share higher-quality video.

Push for Privacy

The main thrust of Meta’s WhatsApp campaign is that Americans’ text-messaging habits are unsafe, according to the company. Meta has touted WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption for years, which means only the sender and recipient can access the message. Some privacy experts argue SMS is an insecure platform that can be hacked by criminals and fraudsters.

Despite the push for privacy, some US lawmakers have expressed a desire to crack down on encryption, saying illegal activity can also be obscured through platforms like WhatsApp. Privacy advocates maintain encryption has an important role to play in terms of helping users protect their sensitive information. Meta is pushing its chips to the center of the table and betting it can convince the public to text on WhatsApp.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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