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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Whatsapp Inc. to introduce Free Calls as from April 2014

WhatsApp Inc., the mobile messaging
service that agreed to be acquired last
week by Facebook Inc. for $19 billion, said
Monday that it would offer voice calling as
early as April, allowing free phone calls
among WhatsApp's 465 million users. Jan
Koum, the co-founder and chief executive
of WhatsApp, also said during a speech at
Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that
he is hoping to grow the service to one or
two billion users. Mr. Koum said that the
WhatsApp voice product would "focus on
simplicity" as it has with its text-based
messaging service. He said that WhatsApp
would first release a version of the voice
service for Apple Inc.'s
iPhone and Google Inc.'s Android
platforms,
followed by services for Microsoft Corp.'s
Windows Phone, as well as some phones
by BlackBerry Ltd. and Nokia Corp.
"We want to continue to have that
minimalistic approach to the product," he
said. "We at WhatsApp want to get out of
the way and let people communicate." Mr.
Koum added that the voice product would
"use the least amount of bandwidth, and
we optimize the hell out of it."
Speaking about the Facebook acquisition
announcement earlier this month, Mr.
Koum said that the product wouldn't
change, stressing that WhatsApp would
remain independent. He cited Instagram's
example, after the acquisition of the
photo-sharing service by Facebook.
Mr. Koum said that WhatsApp was likely
valuable to Facebook because "we both
want to make the world more connected,"
though Mr. Koum stressed that WhatsApp
wanted to know "as little as possible"
about its users, including details such as a
user's name. "There are no plans to
change anything that we do with the
product today," he said, using words like
"minimalistic," "utilitarian" and
"uncluttered" to describe his philosophy.

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