Why WhatsApp is Facebook’s key to mobile-first emerging markets

Gigaom

Although Facebook(s FB) has led a pretty charmed existence — swelling to more than a billion users by creating a social media product people around the world cannot live without —  the company doesn’t look so successful when it comes to mobile product development. Failed apps (Poke, Home), failed hardware (HTC First) and even failed iterations of Facebook itself (with years of stunted growth) have landed on and fallen off phones across the world.

On Wednesday, when Facebook announced its acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion, some wondered why Facebook would spend so much on a service it already has through its successful Messenger app — which, according to analyst Benedict Evans, has 56 million users as of last year — but a close look at Facebook’s strategy and limitations with mobile helps show how WhatsApp can not only continue to operate alongside Facebook…

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