WhatsApp to add voice to messaging service

Feb 24, 2014 by Joseph Wilson

(AP)—WhatsApp, the popular messaging service for smartphones acquired this week by Facebook, will soon be offering a voice service.

CEO Jan Koum said the voice service will be deployed for Android and iPhones this spring, with Blackberry and Microsoft and Nokia phones coming later.

"We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year," Koum said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. "I think we have the best voice product out there. We use the least amount of bandwidth."

WhatsApp currently has a voice function but only in note form. This new service will be live.

On Wednesday, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in a deal that is by far the biggest by the social networking company and any other done by Google, Microsoft or Apple.

Wearing a gray shirt, jeans and a black jacket, the 38-year-old Koum quipped - "last week we added a new Facebook friend. I don't know if you guys heard."

The blockbuster deal made serious waves with those in the telecommunications industry who gathered this week in the Catalan city, but also sparked concern among users that Facebook would introduce advertising to WhatsApp.

Koum insisted that there are no designs to add "marketing" to the messaging service.

"There are no planned changes," said Koum. "Our vision and mission are aligned. We both want to make the world more connected."

Facebook is paying $12 billion in stock and $4 billion in cash for WhatsApp. Koum along with fellow founder Brian Acton and their 55 employees were also granted restricted stock worth $3 billion that will vest over four years after the deal closes.

Koum said that he didn't expect that WhatsApp's staff would grow in number very much, saying that "we want to operate as a startup."

Relatively unknown until now in the U.S., WhatsApp is popular in other countries, both in Europe and in emerging economies. The Mountain View, California, startup already has almost twice as many users as the better known , Twitter.

WhatsApp has 465 million monthly users and 330 daily users, according to Koum, and costs users $1 a year after a first free year.

Explore further: WhatsApp service restored after brief outage

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

WhatsApp: A $19 billion bet for Facebook

Feb 20, 2014

Facebook is placing a $19 billion bet on reaching its next billion mobile users with the acquisition of WhatsApp, a popular messaging service that lets people send texts, photos and videos on their smartphones. ...

Facebook mega-deal seen as brilliant strategic move

Feb 20, 2014

Facebook's deal for the red-hot mobile messaging service WhatsApp is a savvy strategic move for the world's biggest social network, even if the price tag is staggeringly high, analysts say. ...

Recommended for you

Instagram photo-sharing service goes down

Apr 12, 2014

Popular photo-sharing site Instagram was not working Saturday, as frustrated users quickly turned to social network Twitter and other web sites to share their complaints.

Authors Guild asks US court to rule against Google

Apr 11, 2014

The Authors Guild says that Google Inc. is stealing business from retailers and has asked a New York federal appeals court to find that the Internet giant is violating copyright laws with its massive book digitization project.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.