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WhatsApp to add voice communication by summer

Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg
February 24, 2014
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When the announcement hit that Facebook was snapping up WhatsApp (beating out Google in the process), the gargantuan $19 billion price tag was hard to justify. But, with 465 million active users per month, there's a lot of potential for other, perhaps more profitable services. Today at MWC, TechCrunch has heard from WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum that a new service is indeed coming to the platform relatively soon: voice communication. Of WhatsApp's now 330 million daily user base, those on Android and iOS will get the feature first when it rolls out in second quarter 2014, followed by those on "some Nokia and BlackBerry phones." We're not clear on exactly how it'll work -- whether you'll send voice messages like Voxer, or make calls like Skype -- or if we'll be expected to pay for the privilege. (You can record and send audio clips within WhatsApp conversations already, but it's not exactly elegant.) Given there are a number of free voice-based services available to us already, however, we imagine it being part of the standard subscription. Assuming WhatsApp actually want us to use it, anyway.

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