Sources are suggesting that Google is planning the app to make up for lost ground in the messaging market, having unsuccessfully offered $10 billion for WhatsApp earlier this year. Last month, Google sent Nikhyl Singhal, product manager for Hangouts and Google+, on a reconnaissance mission to India, to gather data on the messaging app ecosystem.
While Google already has its Hangouts app with SMS integration, this new messenger apparently won’t force users to login with any Google credentials. Instead, it will likely use phone numbers for identification, which would be a big plus in emerging markets like India, where reliable data connections can be harder to come by.
Those with knowledge of Google’s plans are also stating that the app may contain some region specific features, including Indian language support and voice-to-text messaging. The messaging app will also be completely free to use, unlike WhatsApp’s freemium model which begins charging after the first year.
With Android One increasing Google’s presence in India, it is likely that the tech giant will want to provide apps tailored to the local market. Sundar Pichai has already marked out Google’s intentions for more India specific launches, due to the scale and growth prospects of the market over the next decade.
Would you use Google’s free messaging service, and do you see it being a threat to WhatsApp?