On 24th February 2014 at 18:00 Barcelona time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg presented the opening keynote at the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Why do I think he is brave?

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest mobile industry conference. Hosted by the GSM Association, it brings together some 80,000 mobile industry professionals each year to look at the latest mobile products and trends.

This year, I am representing IBM at MWC.

With the ink only just dry on the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, Mark is being very brave to walk right into the heart of mobile operator territory.

How will he address the disruption WhatsApp is causing operators? Will he mention it at all given the pain it is causing mobile operators?

Some would say it is like walking into the lion’s den, albeit with $19Bn of protection.

SMS revenues are falling fast

Back in 2012, I wrote on this blog about the massive digital disruption hitting Operator SMS revenues.

Quoting from my post…

An interesting report just out from Ovum predicts that global telecom operators are expected to have lost $US23 billion ($22.58b) in SMS revenues by the end of 2012 as smartphone users shift to free messaging applications.

They go on to forecast that the cumulative losses would reach $US54 billion by the end of 2016 as the traditional Short Messaging Service (SMS) gives way to internet-based platforms such as WhatsApp.

Interesting that the WhatsApp purchase price is actually 35% of the forecasted SMS messaging revenue losses by 2016.

The rise of WhatsApp has caught mobile operators on the hop. SMS was for a long time an amazing cash cow for operators. Sub 1 cent costs to deliver an SMS priced at single and double-digit cents kept the operators in the black for a long time.

Now with Facebook owning the hottest mobile messaging app on the planet, WhatsApp has the resources to do just about anything and scoop up that $54 Billion of lost revenue by 2016.

Be sure to follow me @AndrewGrill as I will be live-tweeting from the keynote here in Barcelona, as I will have a front-row seat to catch the keynote.