WhatsApp voice calls are coming to Android and iPhone app stores for download in the next quarter of the year. The world’s most popular messaging app, recently purchased by Facebook for $19 billion, shocked the audience with their announcement at MWC 2014. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum made the announcement Monday at the MWC in Barcelona.
WhatsApp voice calls could spell big trouble for an already waning telecommunications market. With the rise of smartphones of every shape and size, profit from voice calling and SMS has declined as data services become more profitable. This continues to be seen as the mobile market moves away from featuring voice calls and instead optimizing the data experience. The iPhone 5s has become more of a data hungry device than a phone for most consumers, using more data than any tablet on the market.
This looks like a brilliant move by the now Facebook owned company. WhatsApp uses far less bandwidth than any phone provider could offer and already has 465 million users each month, up 15 million more than when the buyout was announced. Koum has plans for world domination when it comes to the ability of his app to make voice calls. “We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world.”
He believes that the future for text messaging apps like his is to widen the door they have already created in a market formerly dominated by phone companies. While it may seem like a step backwards, WhatsApp voice calls will actually be able to offer their service at a cheaper cost to users. “We think we have the best voice product out there,” Koum announced during his speech. “We use the least amount of bandwidth and optimize the hell out of it.”
Undoubtedly, being backed by Facebook has given WhatsApp the boost it needs to crash the market. Don’t expect to see WhatsApp as a Facebook plaything. Koum believes the only way to keep the momentum going is to run independently like Instagram. With Android and iPhone apps already on board, it signals a major shift in the market. “Phones” of the future will be less about talking and more about data, possibly even outsourcing calling capabilities to third party apps.
Do you think WhatsApp voice calls could ever replace the services already in place on smartphones?