WhatsApp smacks down Google acquisition rumors


WhatsApp has refuted reports it is in talks to sell its over-the-top messaging platform to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Late last week, Digital Trends reported Google and WhatsApp first entered negotiations roughly a month ago, with insiders stating that WhatsApp was "playing hardball" and seeking a purchase price in the neighborhood of $1 billion. Former Google executive Neeraj Arora, who joined WhatsApp in late 2011 and now holds the title Business Guy, told AllThingsD that the startup is not holding sales discussions with Google but declined to comment further.

Late last year, WhatsApp also denied reports it had entered talks to sell its platform to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). AllThingsD maintains that both Google and Facebook have explored buying WhatsApp in the past.

The WhatsApp Messenger application enables users to share text messages, voice notes and photos with contacts across the globe, without international messaging fees. WhatsApp users across all mobile platforms now transmit roughly 17 billion messages daily (7 billion inbound and 10 billion outbound), with more than 100 million users on Google's Android OS alone.

WhatsApp has chosen to avoid advertising support, billing Android, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Windows Phone users $0.99 per year after a one-year free trial period. The firm has traditionally offered its iPhone app for a one-time download fee of $0.99, but CEO Jan Koum said last month that WhatsApp will shift its iOS business to the recurring subscription model later this year, adding the pricing change will apply solely to new iOS users.

Acquiring WhatsApp would have helped Google to unify its disparate messaging services under one umbrella. Last month, Geek.com reported Google is readying Babble (or possibly "Babel"), a cross-platform application that combines messaging and chat options including Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Hangout and Drive Chat into a single service. Insiders say Babble will integrate signature features of each service, enabling users to share photos in chat windows à la Google+ Messenger or start Hangout conversations with anyone in their contacts list.

Insiders say Google is building Babble from the ground up and will offer native apps for its Android mobile operating system and its Chrome desktop OS. Additional reports indicate Google will also offer Babble across iOS and BlackBerry, where it will challenge Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iMessage (which transmits more than 2 billion messages per day between iOS devices) and BlackBerry Messenger (used by three out of every four BlackBerry device owners, corresponding to roughly 60 million active users worldwide) as well as conventional operator messaging offerings and OTT options like WhatsApp, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) Messenger and Viber.

For more:
- read this AllThingsD article

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