The European Commission has approved the acquisition of WhatsApp by social media giant Facebook – a move that was announced earlier this year – ruling that consumers would continue to enjoy the benefits of a range of alternative communication apps after the transaction, The Drum reports.
It was announced back in February that Facebook was looking to acquire the messaging app WhatsApp in cash and stock for $19 billion. Joaquin Almunia, the vice president in charge of competition policy for the European Commission, stated that “consumer communications apps keep European citizens connected and are becoming increasingly popular.” The Commission also noted that after having “carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition” they had “come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market” as “consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps”; despite Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp being the most popular, there are still a number of alternative apps, such as Viber, available.
Viber, which was given as an example of an alternative communications app, also recently announced a global marketing push and hired a number of agencies in order to help the platform increase its worldwide marketing strategy.
One of the major concerns of the acquisition is the state of the market if Facebook decides to introduce advertising on WhatsApp or began to gather customer data from the app. It was concluded, however, that even if this were to happen there will still be a sufficient number of alternative providers to Facebook for the supply of targeting advertising and/or the gathering of user data that the market would not be dominated by Facebook alone.