MWC: WhatsApp in new voice threat to mobile operators’ revenues

Plans to add near-free, voice capability to platform soon

whatsapp may get into voice - koum

Mobile operators could lose hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues over the next five years, say analysts, following revelations by WhatsApp that it will soon be adding voice capability to its service. WhatsApp, bought last week by social networking site Facebook for £19 billion, has already made serious inroads into the text messaging revenues of mobile operators with its own instant messaging facility. Now WhatsApp co founder and CEO Jan Koum says that by the second quarter of this year [2014] users will be offered an almost free voice call service, using the networks of the companies whose revenues are being directly hit, though he added his company would work with the mobile industry on encouraging people to move to data plans.

Speaking to journalists at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, he claimed that WhatsApp would offer the best voice service – compared to Skype and other messaging rivals – due to its efficient use of mobile data.

“We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world.”

Meanwhile, also speaking in Barcelona, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that WhatsApp could be worth far more than he paid for it.

“I actually just think that by itself it’s worth much more than $19 billion we paid,” he said.

“Now we just want Jan to go out there and focus on connecting the next one, two or three billion people through WhatsApp.”

Since Zuckerberg’s purchase of WhatsApp, the number of daily users has risen to 330 million – 15 million more than when he bought the company last week.

About Dave Evans

Dave Evans is a long established commentator on both the IT and cellular industries. His current focus is on share price trends within the sector. You can email him here
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