Feeds

What's up with that WhatsApp $19bn price tag? Answer: Voice calls

Now you can text and talk on your phone! RIP the mobile network business as we know it

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Multibillion-dollar chat app WhatsApp will let users make voice calls, it was announced today.

Its makers said that in the second quarter of 2014 it would begin rolling out support for voice comms for iOS and Android devices with Windows Phone and BlackBerry support planned for a later date.

Announcing the new service at a keynote address to the Mobile World Congress (MWC) expo in Barcelona, WhatsApp execs said that the move would bring voice-calling some 450 million users.

"We think we'll have the best voice product out there," CEO Jan Koum was quoted as saying. "It'll use the least amount of bandwidth and we’re going to optimize the hell out of it.”

WhatsApp, a classic over-the-top application that piggybacks network operators' infrastructure, already offers limited voice support: recorded mobile messages, rather than live audio chats.

The announcement also sheds some light on just why Facebook decided to pony up an eye-watering $19bn for WhatsApp. While Facebook operates its own in-house text messaging platform, WhatsApp's own user network and clout in the mobile space, combined with a possible voice calling option, could provide Facebook with a valuable inroad into not only the social networking space, but the mobile communications market in general.

Since the deal was announced, speculation has abounded that mobile phone access was a major factor for the acquisition, something which will only be furthered by today's announcement of a WhatsApp voice-calling feature.

In a separate keynote address at MWC, Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg reiterated the company's commitment to letting WhatsApp run as a separate entity, a commitment both sides have reiterated in the wake of the deal. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.