Barcelona: The text-messaging service provider Whatsapp, which Facebook is buying for $19 billion, will introduce voice communication to its 465 million users in the second quarter, part of its goal to reach more than a billion users. The WhatsApp founder and chief executive, Jan Koum, announced that the new Facebook company was working on voice calling to be introduced into the WhatsApp messaging app, initially on the iPhone and Android in the second quarter of the year, with BlackBerry and Windows Phone to be updated later.
Koum explained that this is the next stage in the evolution of the WhatsApp service, continuing its mission to connect users and keep people in touch. He also explained that the company had taken the speed and efficiency of text messaging to voice, saying that WhatsApp had the best voice product out there. The WhatsApp voice service will first begin with Android and iPhone apps, Koum said, and will expand later to Windows Phone and some BlackBerry phones.
“We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world,” Koum said. He announced a partnership with KPN’s E-Plus under which they will launch a WhatsApp branded mobile service in Germany. “We are working with carriers in established markets to bring value to end users,” Korum said.
This move will put WhatsApp and by default Facebook more squarely in competition against the likes of KakaoTalk, Line, BBM and other messaging apps that also offer voice services. Today, the co-CEO of KakaoTalk, Sirgoo Lee, noted that in countries like Korea his regional giant is wiping the floor with Facebook: The company has 130 million users in total, with 55 million of them in Korea, surpassing Facebook as the default mobile SMS platform, he noted. But as Koum noted today, it wants to grow its users everywhere, and use voice to do that, “including in Korea.”
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