WhatsApp jumping into Internet phone biz

Summary:The chat app purchased by Facebook that helps users avoid text message charges will start offering Internet phone calls this year.

WhatsApp—the chat app that helps its more than 450 million users avoid text message charges—is getting into the Internet phone call biz. 

The company's CEO Jan Koum, speaking at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, said users would be able to make Internet calls through their smartphones in the second quarter, reported the New York Times. Internet messaging companies Kakao and Viber offer similar services. 

It's been a big week for WhatsApp. Facebook announced Wednesday it would buy WhatsApp in a $16 billion cash and stock deal —the social networking giant's largest acquisition to date.

This latest move by WhatsApp signals the company's intent to offer a one-stop shop alternative to telecoms. It will be interesting to see how Facebook handles WhatsApp's new service, which essentially duplicates a similar offering on Facebook Messenger. 

Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg is speaking right now over at Mobile World Congress. Stay tuned for an update.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter.

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