It can be hard to understand what the big platforms´ incentives and interests are. This is partly why designing platform strategies for your business so hard. Are you aligning with what they are doing right now, or where they are going? Can you afford to be opportunistic in the short term, even if the long term outlook is bleak?
This is such a complicated question that Jan Koum, WhatsApp CEO and Facebook board member, found the direction unclear.
“WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently,” the founders wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. “And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication.”
Eighteen months later, the promise not to share data evaporated. Facebook pushed WhatsApp to change its terms of service to give the social network access to the phone numbers of WhatsApp users, along with analytics such as what devices and operating systems people were using.
Facebook is a data company that sells advertising. It’s what they do. Even when they’ve said that they won’t.
Know your platforms when building strategies for them. Ignore them at your peril.