Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp?; A Peek at Free Messaging Service Apps

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By Vittorio Hernandez | December 4, 2012 11:36 AM EST

There are reports that Facebook, the most popular social networking site, is in talks to acquire WhatsApp. The hit mobile messaging WhatsApp denied the report as a rumour.

The Times of India has cited a report in technology blog TechCrunch as the basis of the speculation. SiliconANGLE Contributing Editor John Casaretto discusses more the rumour in this YouTube posting.

The rumours could possibly be linked to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's declaration in October about the future of Facebook in mobile phones considering that there are 5 billion people around the world who have mobile phones and most of them use various applications for messaging.

WhatsApp is an application that allows user to message another use via smartphone over the Internet. The developers of WhatsApp - Jan Koum and Brian Acton, who are long-time Yahoo employees - said that their servers handle more than 10 billion messages per day and it has replace SMS for teens who resent paying for texts. The application has users in more than a hundred countries on 750 mobile networks and its users have phones running in iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Symbian and Windows Phone platforms.

Forbes contributor Eric Jackson opined that selling WhatsApp to Facebook would be a big mistake. He cited nine reasons which includes comparing selling WhatsApp to Mr Zuckerberg in 2012 to the latter selling Facebook to Yahoo in 2006, pointing out that "all the hope and promise and potential for WhatsApp will die the day you hand over the keys to Mark Zuckerberg."

He stressed that staying independent is the only way for WhatsApp to be the next Facebook. "Facebook did not become Facebook by being the next Google or the next MySpace. It became the first social network that really appealed to people in a broad way and didn't over do it with ads. You can be the next Facebook by being the first WhatsApp," Mr Jackson wrote.

WhatsApp is not exclusive in messaging service delivered using the Internet. Several other similar applications are available for downloads too with inclusive free-of-charge voice calls using the internet.

Viber

This application offers free messages and voice calls to anyone and anywhere using the same app. Viber have more than 90 million users with call, text, and photo service access for free. It is available in Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Nokia S40, Symbian, Bada, and Windows Phone and works on both 3G and WiFi networks.

KakaoTalk

This is another application for free which has 57 million users as of August 2012 and handles 3.4 billion messages sent every day. KakaoTalk offers voice calls and messages, 250 plus moving emoticons, talk with iOS, BlackBerry, Bada, Windows Phone friends, Talking Tom & Talking Ben's voice filters, simple walkie talkie feature, video, photos and contact sharing, group chat with unlimited number of friends, chat data security encryption, and K-pop Star friends such as Super Junior, SNSD and 2PM under KakaoTalk. KakaoTalk use both 3G and WiFi networks.

eBuddy Messenger

This app allows multiple access to several chat clients such as MSN, Facebook, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, GTalk, MySpace & Hyves. Other services offered by eBuddy are Google C2DM (push) for battery efficiency, simultaneous chat or IM with friends on MSN, Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, Yahoo, MySpace, Gtalk, ICQ, AIM, and Hyves. The app runs in background and has an avatar, emoticons, contact grouping, and chat screen swiping.

LINE

It is a new application which allows free voice calls and free message sending. As of November 2012, LINE has more than 74 million users in over 230 countries. LINE offers more than calls and SMS services such as social network feature for sharing photos, videos, and location info to friends, timeline posts, sticker shop, add popular celebs and signers as friends, and money saving coupons for various business.

LINE is available in Android, iOS, Windows Phone and newly in BlackBerry.

These applications uses the Internet to send and receive messages or IMs but 3G charges from mobile carriers are not covered. Users may incur additional charges for 3G usage.

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