March 9, 2014
WhatsApp to add voice calls to its service, CEO announces
The world's biggest messaging service WhatsApp, which Facebook has just bought for $19 billion, will add voice calls to its product in the second quarter of this year, its chief executive Jan Koum said today.
The news that the most powerful of them was adding voice calls to its service will likely be seen as worrying for telecom operators globally, which got about $120 billion from text messaging last year, according to market researcher Ovum.
"We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world," Koum said, speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Koum said WhatsApp's acquisition by Facebook would not alter his roadmap to develop the product to reach the next 1 billion users. No advertising will be added to the service, he said.
WhatsApp's Koum also sought to cast himself as a partner to telecom operators and not simply a competitor. He announced a partnership with KPN's E-Plus under which it will launch a WhatsApp branded mobile service in Germany.
"We are working with carriers in established markets to bring value to end users," he said.