The rumor world is abuzz with news of Google being on the hunt to acquire the popular mobile chat program WhatsApp. The entire deal is pegged at an astounding one billion, with WhatsApp reported to be playing hard to jack up the price further. The negotiations are said to have started almost a month ago, though we have yet to hear anything concrete on this. So far, both the parties involved had maintained a studied silence on the entire thing except the almost customary “We do not comment on rumors” thing. If that is not enough, an entirely new twist to the story has come in the form of WhatsApp denying outright they are negotiating with the search giant on a possible takeover.
All the confusion aside, the deal does make a lot of sense for Google that already offers related services, such as Google Voice, Gmail, Google+, and so on. A free messaging service like WhatsApp would be a nice fit to the lineup. Also, of course, with a company as successful as WhatsApp that consistently features among the top paid apps category, Google would save time and money by avoiding having to build one from scratch. WhatsApp commands a huge user base in more than 100 countries across 750 mobile networks. The company boasts of more than 100 million active users on a daily basis, according to an Oct 2011 estimate, and is serving about a billion messages every day on average. During New Year’s Eve in 2012, the company set a new record by processing 18 billion messages, which marks a significant improvement over its previous single day record of 10 billion message a day.
Another factor that makes WhatsApp extremely popular is its ultra-low cost, which stands at just $0.99 while doing away with ads. iPhone users pay that amount once to download the app, though there is a new subscription model that is being developed. Under the new plan, users will be able to download and use the app for one year free of cost, but will have to pay an annual subscription of $0.99 thereafter. The service is available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, and the Windows platform.