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Google in talks to buy WhatsApp

Allan Swann
April 8, 2013

Google is in the hunt for mobile messaging service, WhatsApp, with a mooted purchase price of $1bn.

Google is said to be in talks to purchase cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp, a long standing smartphone app success. It has long been available on BlackBerry, Apple, Windows and Android devices (and some older platforms), and users can message between platforms seamlessly. It has been free on Windows Phone and Android, but costs 0.69p on iOS.

Both Facebook and Google are understood to have approached the company, starting in December last year.

It would make sense for both companies – Facebook, which is attempting to move its eco-system outside of it’s social media constraints, and for Google who will want to compete with Apple’s extremely successful iMessage service.  WhatsApp has never released its financials, but it would appear that $1bn is an absolute premium – reports suggest that the company has turnover of just $100m.

Essentially what BlackBerry Messenger (the mobile originator) WhatsApp, Apple iMessage, Viber and other instant message services are doing is replacing the text message. Instead of consumers being price gouged for SMS text messages (such as 20p texts on prepay and contracts), the messages are sent as data over the web, circumventing the need for the network operator’s offerings. It operates on a similar principle as Yahoo Messenger, ICP and Microsoft Messenger and others did in the mid-90s on PCs, now moved to the always online smartphone market.

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