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Posts from April 7, 2013 - April 13, 2013

WhatApp Rumors with Google and What May Happen

I love WhatsApp. I use it daily, especially to stay in touch with friends in Europe and elsewhere to avoid the costs of SMS. Sure, I can use GoogleVoice, but if those across the water don't have a US based GoogleVoice number it means an international SMS. Whatsapp helps me avoid that.

Recently rumors of a Google possibly making a purchase of Whatsapp made the rounds. And maybe there was some truth to it. Companies like Google always talk to smaller businesses about partnership or acquisition. Sometimes the negotitiations move along to a point where price is on the table, but often what Google and others like them are doing is looking under the hood to see if what's there fits into their long term strategy.

Candidly, the best buyer right now in Silicon Valley is Yahoo for WhatsApp, not the also rumored Facebook. The reason is simply this. Yahoo has basically moved in the direction of the mobile web, while Google is all about the browsable web.  The fit between Yahoo and Whatsapp is likely better, as the Whatsapp team could likely be longer term players inside a new Yahoo and shape direction, while at Google it's all about Tim, Larry and Sergey and always will be for a long time. But at Yahoo, the opportunity has become more of a greenfield play.

But while all this is going on, and it goes on all the time, the best thing for WhatsApp to be doing is to keep driving user growth and to keep signing up mobile operators because in the end, those two metrics along with user retention and usage stats will be how the company is ultimately valued by whichever buyer pays the price.

AT&T Taps Boingo For Global Wi-Fi Roaming

First AT&T cut a data GSM deal with Jasper Wireless. Last week AT&T's Kris Rinne talked about AT&T shouldn't be called a dumb pipe and discussed how the new Ma Bell will do more to lower rates internationally. Today, AT&T tapped Boingo to start to put a dent in coverage holes and give their customers access globally with Wi-FI. As the Verge points out this follows a deal with The Cloud in the UK.

But while Boingo (a former client up to their IPO date) has hundred's of thousands of accessible access points worldwide, the way the press release was phrased leads me to believe that the access is limited to only the actual Boingo owned and operated hotspots, most of which are in major airports and large commercial building or sports facilities.

The key phrase is "managed and operated by Boingo's subsidiary, Concourse Communications Group." Those are not all of the access points in the Boingo worldwide network, but are indeed the ones that Boingo can do things like guarantee a level of service and insure that access really works. 

In a lot of ways this is good for Boingo, and their partners. Too often some providers of Wi-Fi hotspots lag in keeping up with all the new standards or implement odd ball authentication schemes that make it difficult for early adopters, or Mac users, to connect. Having experienced this roaming issue first hand as a multi-account Boingo subscriber, I have also expeirenced how effortlessly all my apps work when I connect at a Boingo operated airport vs. a roaming partners' network. VoIP, Video, collaboration and cloud services sometimes work at partner locations. At Boingo locations, everything works. 

And for AT&T and their customers, the gold standard approach dictates that everything has to work, or the cost to support it outweighs the value offered.

-- Andy Abramson