Facebook and Jio are Frenemies

FB-owned WhatsApp Inc. is no new app for India.

Today, while my little sister was watching TV – I saw an ad from WA.

I was surprised. I thought why in the world would WA invest in a TV ad campaign.

Isn’t it something 400M people use every day in India?

Last time they launched a TV ad campaign – it was an effort to educate Indians about the dangers of fake news and irresponsibly forwarding messages.

What’s up this time?

It’s direct competition from JioChat – messaging service by India’s largest telecom operator Reliance Jio.

The surge in social media usage (as a result of the pandemic), the current nationalism among Indians and Reliance Jio’s ecosystem are all the reasons for WA to stay cautious.

“Having spent close to $50B to build a subscriber base of 340M, it has now created a “Jio-ecosystem”, which is difficult to replicate. It is seeking to become the home-grown “digital” monopoly—wherein every digital access or service that we in India avail, could be through Jio—either network, device or content.” – livemint

However, things are unclear when we look deeper.

FB recently invested $5.7B in Jio Platforms (which includes JioChat) for roughly 10% stake.

So WA and JioChat are basically sister companies.

“The arrangement among Reliance Retail, Jio Platforms and FB-owned WA is to offer consumers the ability to access the nearest kiranas, or grocery stores, which can provide products and services to their homes by transacting with JioMart using WA.” – Indian Express

With JioChat – Is Jio planning to eventually take WA out of the equation and leverage its own service to power JioMart?

Only time will tell.

1. livemint
2. Indian Express
Photo Credits: Yucel Moran/Unsplash

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