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Rumor: Whatsapp may be acquired by Google for $1 billion

A Digital Trends report suggests that Google and Whatsapp have been in talks over the past few weeks to discuss a potential acquisition.
April 8, 2013

There’s no denying the exponential growth and success of third-party messenger apps such as KakaoTalk, WeChat, Nimbuzz, Viber, and numerous others, with one of the most popular in the lot being Whatsapp Messenger. Attesting to the popularity of the messenger service, apart from the recent statistic that 18 billion messages were processed by the company on New Year’s eve,  is that Google once again has the company in its sights.

After recent acquisition rumors by both Facebook and Google last year, a Digital Trends report, suggests that Google and Whatsapp have been in talks over the past four or five weeks to discuss an acquisition. According to the report, Whatsapp is “playing hardball” and vying for a higher price, which is allegedly close to $1 billion.

This move by Google makes a lot of sense. Google definitely needs to change things up as far as mobile messaging is concerned. Google Talk, which was very popular only a little while back, hasn’t evolved much in the past few years, and has lost out to the growing number of third-party messengers. Recent reports have suggested that the company is now working on a unified chat service, called Babel, the expertise of Whatsapp developers in running a very popular cross platform messaging service could help do the integration seamlessly. This would also save Google the trouble of having to enter a highly-competitive space with a completely new product.

Another major reason would be Facebook’s move into the mobile messaging arena. With the improved Facebook Messenger allowing users to sign up with just a phone number (similar to Whatsapp), and also now allowing for voice calls for U.S. accounts, Google needs to step up its game if the company is hoping to catch up to the competition.

Of course, this acquisition is also a great move financially. While Whatsapp hasn’t revealed any revenue numbers, some reports estimate that the company pulls in about $100 million a year, while staying completely ad-free. iOS users pay $0.99 when downloading the app, with Android users required to pay a nominal $0.99 per year fee after one year of free service, which, more often than not, gets extended indefinitely. I’ve used Whatsapp for about a year and a half now, and still haven’t had to pay anything. The service also has tie-ups with mobile service providers globally, for specific data plans, which profits shared by both parties.

If you’re a part of the decided minority that doesn’t know what Whatsapp is, it’s a messenger service that allows you to message, send images, audio clips, and videos other users who use the app, regardless of what mobile platform they use – Whatsapp is available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. For Android, you can find Whatsapp on the Google Play Store here.

Do you think this is a good move by Google? Do you think Whatsapp will be integrated into Google Babel, or continue to exist as an independent app? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.