WhatsApp to add voice to messaging service

February 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

Related Stories

WhatsApp: A $19 billion bet for Facebook

February 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

February 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

A not-quite-random walk demystifies the algorithm

December 15, 2017

The algorithm is having a cultural moment. Originally a math and computer science term, algorithms are now used to account for everything from military drone strikes and financial market forecasts to Google search results.

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.