Google ostensibly close to buying WhatsApp for $1 billion

By , Apr 7, 2013

whatsapp iphone screenshot

WhatsApp, the cross-platform instant messaging application for smartphones, is rumored to be close to negotiating a landmark acquisition deal with Google. Sources reportedly close to the negotiations claim the Internet giant is considering dropping a whopping one billion dollars on the popular service that as of March 2013 had a cool 200 million users, a hundred million ones on Android alone.

The report ties nicely with talk of a new instant messaging brand from Google called Babble, and even more so given Facebook with its new Home UI layer for select Android devices is basically encouraging its one billion users to use its Messenger service right from their Lock screen or from whichever app they happen to be using at any give moment…

DigitalTrends reports that while the deal started four or five weeks ago, “we’ve been told that WhatsApp is ‘playing hardball’ and jockeying for a higher acquisition price, which currently is ‘close to’ $1 billion right now.”

The acquisition might make sense for both parties.

For WhatsApp, Google’s scale and reach would mean rapid adoption, especially on Android devices. More importantly, the software would probably gain video chatting, a feature it’s been conspicuously missing.

WhatsApp’s 200 million users come from more than a hundred countries and across an astounding 750 mobile networks.The number one paid app in more than a hundred countries, WhatsApp on New Years Eve 2012 alone saw a record eighteen billion messages processed in a day.

DigitalTrends lets us in on WhatsApp’s business model, said to pull in about $100 million in revenue:

WhatsApp has a proven monetization scheme. Its yearly but nominal $0.99 subscription fee keeps the service ad-free. Behind the scenes however, WhatsApp also generates revenue through profitable partnerships with international telecommunications companies.

For instance WhatsApp’s monthly local plan in Hong Kong with mobile operator 3 HK costs just $8HK ($1.03 USD) and an international package will run for $48HK ($6.18 USD) per day. And whatever Whatsapp is doing is working: The app has even had a direct hand in declining SMS usage around the world. 

It’s interesting that although Google played its cards well with Android, it somehow has managed to drop the ball when it comes to the mobile instant messaging playground.

The company is now rumored to be consolidating its many instant messaging offerings under the new Babble brand so it could certainly use a standout app such as WhatsApp to drive people away from rival offerings and give them another reason to go Android.

The search giant’s Nikhyl Singhal told GigaOM last June that “we have done an incredibly poor job of servicing our users here.”

WhatsApp is thought to be toying with a subscription model on iOS and has suffered its share or privacy-related hiccups. Google previously acquired some other popular developers who made names for themselves creating popular apps for Apple’s iPhone, iPod, iPad and Mac.

Most notably, it boughtemail client Sparrow last Jul and mobile productivity suite QuickOffice in June 2012. Last September, the company unexpectedly acquired Nik Software, the maker of the popular photo editing software Snapseed.

Viber, another popular IM app, has for some time been in a neck and neck race with WhatsApp over which service gets to become the default cross-platform messaging solution on mobile devices.

But taking advantage of Viber’s feature shortages and slow pace of development, WhatsApp zoomed past its rival, which as of February 26, 2013 had 175 million users.

Which one do you prefer for cross-platform messaging, Viber or WhatsApp?

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    No! Don’t need to start seeing ads based on my text messages! Will have to parmanently switch to Viber if this actually happens….

    • rain111

      +1

    • http://twitter.com/oo7plasma Brandon

      do you see ads in the other mobile google apps? no…

      • Boss

        They gotta make their 1 Billion back some how

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        lolollololo and pay the court fees from cases with apple

      • David Villamizar

        da fuq?

      • Ben

        What goes through your head?

      • jgr627

        I see them in YouTube

      • Adam

        The YouTube app has advertisements because Google is paying users who upload content to YouTube… Gmail, Voice, Talk, Drive and Maps all are ad-free

      • jgr627

        Not bad sucks that I just use YouTube from all there services

      • http://twitter.com/RyanB823 RyanB

        Yes. YouTube.

    • MarcPhilippeB

      Viber? Never.

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      LINE is also a great message App. A great altenative for WhatsApp.
      Simple, clean, great design. Totally recommended.

  • http://twitter.com/franklylife Frank Anthony

    I hope Google won’t ruin it. This is my only means of texting and chatting with family and friends.

  • http://twitter.com/Dynomite232 Nino 0raham

    if Google Acuires WhatsApp :) and has video chat intergrated in Android devices , the Family will be Switching to Android in a instant

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      bye

    • David Villamizar

      I don’t think they are acquiring it for Android tho, they should be expanding gmail.

    • jgr627

      What’s wrong with the apple ecosystem that already has those features built in?

      • SimonReidy

        While iMessage is great for iPhone owning friends, its not cross platform. What makes WhatsApp so valuable is that its on everything from iPhone to Windows Phone. Even tiny ecosystems like Blackberry has it.

  • makedonii

    Say: – ONE BILLION DOLLARS! with austin powers voice! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/Johannes.Mertens Johannes Mertens

      hahaha :D Great!

    • http://twitter.com/royshtayim Roy Shtayim

      *Dr. Evil :D

  • http://twitter.com/wamid Em Oh Shi-Habi

    Oh crap. No gimmicky new feature please, Google. This should stay a texting app only. We have tango for the vid calls. Maybe just a UI improvement and improved service.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    1 billion??? omg what a deal lol google will still suck though

    • David Villamizar

      yet they will take more money from Google, they are pushing hard =D

  • Diego Gastón Milano

    Terrible news! Google is beginning to be like a huge monopoly. They screwed Sparrow, now this…

    • David Villamizar

      Beginning? Don’t make me laugh. They might not look as cold as Apple, but still, being such a big company, they have to play rough for their benefit sometimes.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        Google is, indeed, a App/Service killer. They buy great services to kill them only. Pure monopoly to make their services prevail.

        Sparrow -> Gmail
        WhatsApp -> GoogleTalk / Google+

      • http://twitter.com/oo7plasma Brandon

        you have the intentions wrong, most large companies these days are simply out to buy talent and patents. In this case the Sparrow team was absorbed into the Gmail team, theyve probably influenced a lot of design updates in the mobile app.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pez.granite Pez Tickles

    i use Whats App, Viber and FB Messenger. FB is used more than the other 2 due to practically all my friends and family using the service. Whats App is second as I have a friend thats not on FB and has a shitty arsed Windows phone which so far doesn’t have access to Viber. personally I think Viber is the winner out of that and Whats App due to their Free Call Service – I’d put my money into them to be honest.

  • http://twitter.com/reloadedhead Tom García

    I hope they will continue upgrading WhatsApp, not like Sparrow..

  • http://twitter.com/yoshif8tures yoshif8tures

    I use Line, the stickers give it a clear edge

    • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

      Stickers? Hmm…

  • akhyar

    oh c’mon now… give us a break please Google! You’re just another Microsoft in the making.. what happened to your “Don’t Be Evil” motto?! Cut us some slack, and leave things at it is with Whatsapp and other apps.. don’t ruin it!

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      Google was a great company in the beginning. But their investitors are killing their motto. “Don’t be evil” it’s just past….

    • Rex

      What’s ‘evil’ about them wanting to acquire another company? Consolidation happens all the time in all industries.

  • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

    Interesting because no other tech site aside from digital trends and IDB is reporting this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Burke/100000342304804 Gary Burke

    if whatsapp wants to sell it’s their choice…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeroen.claassens Jeroen Claassens

    Without a doubt, whatsapp.

  • maverickmax

    subscription model! …..i m back to luvin imessage..

  • http://twitter.com/don_afrim Don_Afrim

    I prefer Viber.

    You can make calls and you have your privacy since it does not show you online whenever you’re in the app WITH NO OPTION TO TURN IT OFF. I HATE that about WhatsApp!!!!!

    • martepato

      It has an option to turn it off.

      • Outhig

        No it doesn’t, it has an option to turn off the last seen time. It will always show if you are online.

  • MrDDify

    WE ARE DOOMED!

  • http://www.facebook.com/abdullah.alhealal Abdullah Al Healal

    No !!! GOOGLE is buying Everything!!!

  • sleeperjoe

    With Google’s track record, about 6 minutes after the WhatsApp team sits at their new Google station, they’ll be told to integrate Google Chat with Google Voice into a Googlified version of WhatsApp to be rebranded Babble. WhatsApp will be “retired” and Babble will shut down in a few years.

    Whatever happened to Meebo?

  • Ragip Karelli

    Google is like a rich kid, buys anything that gets in his hands for a high price and then plays with it a couple of hours and then throws it away…

  • seyss

    good bye whatsapp

  • Mohammed Sahib

    Viber is free and most my friends and relatives use it. Tango comes 2nd and Skype 3rd.