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Wholesale VoIP Feature Article

WhatsApp to Introduce Voice-Calling to its Text-Messaging App in Q2

April 08, 2014
By Daniel Brecht, Contributing Writer

Instant Messaging has challenged the SMS/text-dominated market for the past few years. Messaging, led by SMS texts and over-the-top (OTT) instant messaging services has grown in recent time, attracting millions of mobile users, worldwide. It has become a huge global industry and a “revenue windfall for the world's mobile carriers,” says a new report from BI Intelligence. The report sees messaging apps using a wide variety of monetization schemes challenging traditional SMS and MMS as the messaging vehicles of choice on mobile platforms.

These days, more people are spending less time on social networking sites and more with the WhatsApp Messenger, a popular cross-platform text-messaging alternative. It’s a free app to download and try for the first year, used to exchange messages without having to pay for SMSs; after the free trial period, users have the option of extending their subscription for 99 cents per year. Undoubtedly, the low-price, works in WhatsApp’s favor among its market competitors.

Facebook (News - Alert) acquired WhatsApp Inc. back in February of this year for $19 billion. Facebook, one the most popular social media sites to date, has seen a decline in daily users; the demographics show that more people are electing to use other media sites and messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, for their communication needs. This is especially true among teens and young people in general.

A recent post on website mentioned that Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp: “looks increasingly like one of the wisest and most astute pieces of business in the IT and Internet field.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) said that Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp has been a smart investment in the field of free real-time messaging applications. He acknowledged more and more people are beginning to ditch traditional SMS in favor of services like WhatsApp.

Aside from the usual text features, the cross-platform WhatsApp includes unlimited images, video and audio media messages, as part of its instant messaging service. In addition, the app can provide intuitive and streamlined group chat capabilities.

WhatsApp has been in the spotlight since it first emerged in 2009, as one of the most popular mobile apps around. It has been able to distance itself from other messaging apps by being available for virtually every phone and platform: iOS, Android, Blackberry and Nokia (News - Alert) platforms. According to WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, the instant messaging service had, on one day, 64 billion WhatsApp text messages that were either sent or received via the app. He tells of WhatsApp having a huge user base of active monthly users and processes some 18 billion messages a day, more or less. Numbers released on the Facebook WhatsApp Messenger page, reveals that “over 450 million people [are] using the service each month.” These stats make it the biggest messaging app in the world for number of users, with even more active users than social media. Furthermore, users are finding WhatsApp safer for communicating and posting things than broadcasting them on Facebook, for example.

 “Whilst some expressed concern at the Facebook acquisition, suggesting it would see many uninstall the app and leave the service, it is clear that this isn’t going to happen. If anything WhatsApp’s popularity has increased since Facebook bought it,” Koum said.

Then again, there are those that question if some of the WhatsApp features will be built into the Facebook Messenger free standalone application, or left untouched. Zuckerberg said in a statement that Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp would continue to co-exist as separate applications, “in their own right with little to no crossover.” He also mentioned he would not introduce advertising on WhatsApp, the mobile messaging service, at least for the time being. This may be because the creators of this subscription-based messenger, Americans Brian Acton and Jan Koum (the CEO), both former employees of Yahoo!, have long been against delivering ads; Zuckerberg says he shares this stance, for messaging platforms at least. At present, it is evident that WhatsApp, which has been clearly committed to "no ads, no games, no gimmicks" since its inception, will remain. WhatsApp is all about "staying in touch with your friends," the company says.

WhatsApp has previously announced that forthcoming versions will not be very different from the existing app, but they do intend to introduce VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls to the service before June 2014, a feature that will no doubt make the app even more popular and attract more users, affirms the post on WhatsApp now has voicemail that lets users send recorded messages to contacts, but the VoIP version will allow calling everyone in Messenger.

Free VoIP is expected to be available first for the Apple (News - Alert) iPhone and devices like the Samsung Galaxy, which run on Android, with versions for Windows Phones and BlackBerry to follow. The upcoming VoIP feature will allow WhatsApp users to make voice calls with their smartphones and tablets over Wi-Fi and cellular connections, Koum explained. He believes placing calls via VoIP along with Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) will be the cross-platform of choice and allow WhatsApp to keep at a distance competitors like Viber, as the most popular messenger and voice call app.
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