WhatsApp Denies Sale to Google
Following a two day period in which rumors of an imminent sale reached a fever pitch, universal messaging client WhatsApp is denying that it has any plans to sell itself to Google.
In a correspondence with AllThingsD, Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s business development lead, said the company has no plans to sell to Google.
Initial reports from Digitimes had emphasized a plan in which Google was said to be purchasing WhatsApp, which is available for free on Windows Phone, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry OS at a price as high as $1 billion dollars.
According to that source Google would include the product in a new initiative designed to give Google-centric users one unified place to access the different types of communication Google offers. This unified suite would have–according Digitimes been called Google Babble.
This absolute denial does still leaves Google with competitive disadvantage. Currently users can choose between Google Voice, Google Talk, GChat, Google Plus Messenger, and Google Plus Hangouts to communicate. In contrast, both Microsoft and Apple offer their own unified communication for suites.
With this week’s shutdown of Live Messenger, Microsoft is transitioning existing users over to its recently purchased Skype subsidiary. With Skype’s sheer number of users and presence on nearly every platform including iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry OS, and Symbian, Microsoft is already ready to compete head to head with rival technology companies and mobile carriers to become a leading provider in unified communications. During a talk at the eComm conference in 2009, Skype reported a total of 560 million users.
Apple too, offers a unified communication solution. Apple has made aggressive moves in this space including replacing Mac OS X’s iChat with iMessages and rolling out the product to iOS users the world over on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch.
U.S. carrier, Verizon is also getting in on the action. This past March they launched Verizon Messages, a free download for its smartphone users on iOS and Android. Unlike with solutions offered by Apple, Microsoft, and WhatsApp, Verizon Messages uses messaging plans instead of data.
While unified communication may be a method of ecosystem lock-in for large tech companies, cellphone carriers see this an existential threat to the larger profits they receive because of messaging plans users are forced to maintain when buying a subsidized smartphone.