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Google allegedly working on its own WhatsApp competitor

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Google introduced its Android One program earlier this year, which focuses on building budget-friendly, solid quality smartphones for the developing world. Back then, the search giant made it pretty clear that, with help from manufacturers, it wanted to create a big splash in emerging markets -- such as India, where the first Android One devices were revealed last month. But a rumor suggests Google's next step is to build what it couldn't buy when it lost out on messaging king WhatsApp to Facebook. The Economic Times, a trusted Indian news outlet, is now claiming the company from Mountain View has started working on a messaging app of its own that will head to emerging markets first, before potentially launching elsewhere.

Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, The Economic Times says the purported service will "likely" launch in 2015, noting that it's still in the early stages of development. One key way it might differ from the existing Hangouts service is that it wouldn't require a Google account to login, and unlike WhatsApp, it would be entirely free to use. Hooking the service up to Gmail may have helped Google get messaging users in the US, but competing with Whatsapp and its ilk (WeChat, Line, Viber) may require more flexibility and support for different devices.

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