Facebook reportedly in talks to acquire WhatsApp

Facebook’s been on a bit of a buying spree this year. Of course we all know about the $1 billion Instagram deal. Then there was the Acrylic buyout. And now the word is that it’s in talks to acquire WhatsApp, the popular cross-platform messaging service that allows users to send and receive text, video and audio messages…

TechCrunch has the scoop:

“Whatsapp, the multiplatform mobile messaging app that has been one of the runaway success stories for ad-free, paid services, has been in talks to be acquired by Facebook, according to sources close to the matter.

We’re still digging around on potential price and other details about how advanced the deal is. But as mobile becomes the latest battleground in the Internet’s game of thrones, you can see how such a deal could make sense.”

So what would Facebook want with WhatsApp? Well, there are a number of reasons why the deal makes sense. For one, WhatsApp has some pretty impressive stats. Back in August, it announced that the service was serving 10 billion messages on a daily basis. And it’s particularly popular on iOS; currently, it’s #2 in Top Paid apps.

WhatsApp is also in a number of international markets. It has users in over a hundred countries, on over 700 networks, and is on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Symbian and Windows Phone platforms. This would be particularly appealing to Facebook, who, as Zuckerberg told Businessweek, is honing in on the mobile space.

But there’s also a few reasons why the deal could go south, most notably WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum’s public disdain for using ads as a source of revenue: “Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.” Obviously, Facebook feels much differently.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all unfolds. If Facebook ends up acquiring WhatsApp, does it shut it down and roll it into its Facebook Messenger service, or does it keep operating it independently like it’s currently doing with Instagram? It’s hard to see the shut-down scenario happening, considering how popular it is. But you never know.

What do you think of the idea of Facebook acquiring WhatsApp? Good idea/bad idea?