Whether Facebook merges into one system should be up to Facebook. Ultimately, FB will succeed or fail based on the marketplace. Just because FB is massive and appears to many to be a monopolist or behave like a monopolist, just remember the days of Eastman Kodak, and then the invasion of Fuji. And beyond, the decline and really, for all practical purposes, their disappearance after the incredible growth of digital photography.
Each of those three brands – Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – has its own audience, and there is specific consumer recognition and use. From that standpoint, the consumer might become confused to jump onto a merged brand with which he or she does not identify. On the other side, the consumer is tired of jumping from one app to the other one. Indeed, the more social media apps and other communication tools we have in the market, the more complicated it is for the consumer to use.
Historically we have seen that the greater consumer engagement with one powerful app instead of jumping back-and-forth between apps. For example, we have seen see how cumbersome it can be to jump from one media app to the other to consume music or any specific film or TV show.
An “umbrella” app which combines FB, Instagram and WhatsApp and possibly even integrates Twitter, or any other social media app of choice, could be an interesting way to go. So that the consumer is ending up with one single access point to everything called social media communication. Yet, that raises the question of monopolistic access or control, but the contemporary history of technology is the history of disruption, and what we call monopolies may not fit the classic definitions and, even if they did somehow fit into some customary description, how durable is that alleged market power?
In the end, this is also a marketing question about how this powerful app is going to be presented to the consumer. It becomes a legal question only if the government here, via antitrust or other rationale, interferes, or if governments in other countries, interfere. I, for one, would favor the marketplace resolving these issues. We can see, now more than ever, that consumer sovereignty can roil the way technology delivers services and breakdown supposed monopolies or oligopolies.