Messaging service WhatsApp, which is due to become part of Facebook, says it’s working to add voice calls to its mobile application. The new service would be seen as a challenger to existing VoIP services such as Skype and Viber as well as a threat to network operator revenue.
This announcement was made by WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum at Mobile World Congress. He’s expecting voice functionality to be added to the company’s iPhone and Android apps in the second quarter of the year, with BlackBerry and Windows Phone due to follow.
This week is the fifth anniversary of WhatsApp’s launch.
James Briscoe, managing director of marketing agency Unique Digital, commented on the announcement by saying “It’s not surprising that WhatsApp is going to add voice calling to its range of functions: one of the many shortcomings of Facebook’s own limited messenger app is its inability to send voice messages outside of US and Canada. While it appeared a simple one at first glance, Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp was always going to be one that saw a shakeup of the services offered by both platforms (regardless of whether they are merged together or not). All roads lead to a future where social networks are true communications backbones, rather than a peripheral bit of fun.”