WhatsApp has been the subject of plenty of interest from tech’s biggest players for some time.
But news over the weekend of a potential $1 billion buyout by Google raises the prospect of the Big G finally having a proper mobile messaging big-hitter to compete with BBM and Apple iMessage.
While WhatsApp is said to be demanding a bigger fee, with talks only a few weeks old, any tie up surely makes sense for Google in the long term.
There’s been a lot of chat about its plans for its so-called Babble package, tying its IM, video and talk offerings together under one brand.
Surely WhatsApp would complete this, not to mention give Google an instant install base of millions of users?
Look at it like this: Apple has iMessage (for all its faults it’s still a smart, unified solution across iOS and OS X); BlackBerry has BBM, which remains the choice of the kids and promises to maintain its popularity as BlackBerry 10 grows in the coming months.
Google Android has no decent native equivalent. When you consider Mountain View’s pedigree in this area that’s actually pretty shocking. Snaffling WhatsApp could immediately change the landscape.
It’s the most popular paid for app in over 100 territories and is used by millions because of its breezy interface and free messaging smarts.
Google could bring its own design eye and engineering skills to bear on it and turn the whole thing into a truly superb package for Android (and other platforms if it wanted to).
Of course, WhatsApp could easily turn around and say no.
Facebook and Google both tried and failed to acquire it in 2012 and with its ongoing success without the help of the big boys, you could argue that there’s no point in selling up.
There are concerns if it does sell to Google.
Would the app still be readily available on iOS and other mobile systems once the deal goes through?
Or would it be pulled only to appear as a Google-branded effort in later months?
Such a move would surely annoy millions of loyal fans and send them into the arms of rival services.
It’s unlikely this will happen, but it’s something that will have to be ironed out if and when cash does change hands. For what it’s worth, WhatsApp would surely be foolish to turn this down.
Android’s massive success would give it the chance to reach an even wider audience in emerging markets and could make Google’s software even better than it already is.
Don’t be surprised if this tie-up is all done come the summer.