WhatsApp launches prepaid service; Facebook's Indian users top 100M

WhatsApp (FB +2.8%) is partnering with German carrier E-Plus to launch a €10 ($14) prepaid SIM card that provides unlimited access to its mobile messaging services (no data charges apply) to go with regular voice/SMS/data services. Even after the SIM credit is used up, WhatsApp remains available.

Notably, the SIM card is provided under WhatsApp's brand, effectively making the startup an MVNO. With an estimated 90% of German smartphone users having already installed WhatsApp, there's a large installed base to sell to.

WhatsApp, used as an SMS replacement by a huge chunk of its 465M+ global MAUs, already has deals with 50+ carriers. Many of those deals, such as one with India's Reliance, provide unlimited WhatsApp usage for a small monthly fee. Facebook proper is looking to strike deals that provide free/subsidized access to its core services; the carrier response has been mixed.

Meanwhile, a Facebook exec has told the Economic Times his company's Indian MAU base has topped 100M. That makes India (population 1.24B) Facebook's second-biggest market after the U.S. (182M MAUs). Brazil is #3 (83M), and Indonesia #4 (65M).

Globally, Facebook had 1.23B MAUs at the end of 2013. Since then, the company's mobile MAU base has surpassed 1B.

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Comments (12)
  • monfrere
    , contributor
    Comments (719) | Send Message
    I wish these news bits came out with some sort of indication of profitability. It would really help evaluate. It could be 10 euro that costs facebook 1 Euro, or it could be 10 euro that costs them 50 euro.
    8 Apr 2014, 01:25 PM Reply Like
  • zeeman1
    , contributor
    Comments (93) | Send Message
    All it means is thats time to move on to some other free messaging service. Facebook is going to kill whatsapp sooner than I thought
    8 Apr 2014, 01:30 PM Reply Like
  • bobby12345b
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
    Whatsapp was never free... it was free for 1 year and then you had to pay for it
    8 Apr 2014, 01:49 PM Reply Like
  • financeminister
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
    It was always free... you just decline to pay the fee and continue using it. I used it so far without paying a buck with my relatives in England, Ukraine and India and none of them paid a buck. Some folks choose to pay though since it's "only 99 cents"... they probably never heard of the saying "penny saved is a penny earned".


    If they leave no choice, then there are so many other apps out there that you could use. Vibre is another one that someone told me about. Haven't checked it out. I mean, why would anyone pay for an internet chatting service! You have dozens of options!
    8 Apr 2014, 02:14 PM Reply Like
  • cluegate
    , contributor
    Comments (25) | Send Message
    It is still free. You need to read the details clearly. This is a brilliant move. WhatsApp is simply providing an economical way to get on WhatsUp using a smartphone for individuals that cannot afford a full data plan.


    This is very similar to BBM service that Blackberry provided to users at $10.00 a month which was quite popular.


    If you have a data plan, you don't need to pay for this service as you get it for free or $1 dollar a year.
    8 Apr 2014, 02:36 PM Reply Like
  • stockoperator21
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
    can you please explain how it is killing whatsapp? this is a great move from fb. you don't need data to use whatsapp. this is a win win situation for both the customer and the service provider.
    8 Apr 2014, 03:22 PM Reply Like
  • zeeman1
    , contributor
    Comments (93) | Send Message
    Its free. I have never paid or don't know anyone who has paid yearly 99 cents.


    The reason whatsapp became so popular was its simplicity- (remember "no gimmicks") and suddenly you have prepaid cards, gimmicks, "plans" etc. Thats how its going to be killed
    8 Apr 2014, 03:48 PM Reply Like
  • emiller992000
    , contributor
    Comments (226) | Send Message
    Some of you guys go overboard with your hatred for FB. It's funny...you think just because you don't come right out and say that you are either: short the stock, were burned with the IPO, or that you just flat-out envy Zuck for being young, rich, and powerful, that readers don't pickup on your disdain for FB...


    How could this be looked at as anything other than a positive for FB? I mean...who wouldn't be willing to pay a buck for something they've become accustomed to using that saves them money in the long run. I view your comment as the same sort of displaced hate you read from some of the original backers of the Oculus Rift...that I personally just don't get. I mean if your goal was to "kickstart" the Oculus Rift into something more mainstream...why then would FBs backing be a game changer?


    Again, I just don't get the outright hate and disdain for Zuck and FB. Even in the case where you're short the stock. One would have to know commenting on SA isn't going to sway the stock price in one direction or another. So what's the point of bashing FB at every turn?
    8 Apr 2014, 06:27 PM Reply Like
  • Revox_2001@yahoo.com
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
    Good post EMILLER. I do believe you're right. Some folks just hate FB for whatever reason. (maybe they are short the stock, who knows?)
    People can always vote with their wallet if they don't agree with the moves that are being made.
    For the ones that negative with the decisions MB an FB are making, maybe when you start from scratch and create a company with the size of FB ( over $100 billion) you can let us all know and I swear I will take your opinion more seriously. For the being as a shareholder I'm glad with decisions that are being made and I say carry on, Mark.
    12 Apr 2014, 04:45 AM Reply Like
    , contributor
    Comments (5166) | Send Message
    Another ka-$hing for FB .
    8 Apr 2014, 05:38 PM Reply Like
  • yisroal
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
    I think most of the comments miss the opportunity that is being presented to 'whatsapp'. SMS is still free but when you add all the additional services on a SIM that may be a better deal than the competition you have something. Indians are not dumb. In fact they are outstanding engineers and doctors. They excel in most scientific and high tech areas. So that being said why would one think that 'whatsapp' India failed to do the due diligence before offering the program. I for one will continue to add FB to my portfolio. Thus far I have done very well understanding that Zuckerburg is a very smart fellow.
    8 Apr 2014, 05:42 PM Reply Like
  • James Sands
    , contributor
    Comments (2752) | Send Message
    No network of 500 million or more people is going to stay as a "free" service. If there are this many people who like the service, what is wrong with paying something for it. It's called supply and demand. Facebook's platform seems to do alright, Google, even Seeking Alpha. They all provide great service and in return, get to advertise to us. I like SA, it's great, do I care about the fact that there are advertisements on the site and they make money off of my usage? No, good for them because they provide a great service.


    Anyone feeling entitled to free services/products should think twice about economics in general and/or the costs needed to supply such services/products.


    Businesses don't evolve with a long-term goal of creating free services, how would they continue to grow? If there was no incentive/compensation for entrepreneurs, there wouldn't be as much innovation to begin with, its called capitalism people. Come on!
    8 Apr 2014, 09:20 PM Reply Like
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