Report: Facebook in talks to acquire WhatsApp
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is in negotiations to acquire multi-platform mobile messaging startup WhatsApp, TechCrunch reports.
While sources close to the matter have confirmed Facebook and WhatsApp are in talks, the progress of the deal is currently unknown, as is a potential purchase price. Neither Facebook nor WhatsApp responded to requests for comment.
Priced at 99 cents, the ad-free WhatsApp Messenger application enables users to share text messages, voice notes, photos and videos with contacts across the globe, with no international messaging fees applied. The app spans mobile operating systems including Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone, serving a reported 100 million daily active users across more than 100 international markets and 750 mobile networks.
Last month, advisory firm Analysys Mason called WhatsApp Messenger "the first large-scale cross-platform messaging app," noting that more than 45 percent of all smartphone owners now use some form of instant messaging or over-the-top messaging app in addition to or instead of traditional SMS.
Although Facebook supports its own standalone, ad-supported Messenger app for iOS and Android, the addition of WhatsApp would expand its messaging presence to platforms such as Windows Phone and Symbian while also creating a new revenue stream that does not depend on advertiser support. Investors have expressed grave doubts over Facebook's ability to monetize its core advertising services on mobile, resulting in the introduction of new initiatives including premium in-app goods and Facebook Gifts, which enables users to purchase and send real-world items to friends and family.
Despite mounting consumer interest in more feature-rich mobile messaging options like WhatsApp, Analysys Mason reports that 97 percent of subscribers still use SMS. Coincidentally enough, Dec. 3, 2012 heralds the 20th anniversary of SMS services: Two decades ago today, British engineer Neil Papworth sent the world's first text message to a mobile phone. The message read "Merry Christmas."
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