WhatsApp, the mobile messaging service recently purchased by Facebook for $US16 billion, has announced it is adding free voice calls to its service.
According to Reuters, WhatsApp chief executive Jan Koum says the voice calling functionality should be available by the second quarter of this year.
Koum says the move is partly aimed at growing WhatsApp’s user base from 450 million to 1 billion users globally.
The news comes after Facebook announced a massive $US16 billion takeover of WhatsApp last week.
Under the deal, WhatsApp investors gain $US12 billion in Facebook stock and $US4 billion in cash, with a further $US3 billion in restricted Facebook stock to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over the next four years.
The takeover will see WhatsApp shareholders owning 7.9% of the total stock in Facebook once the deal is completed, based on current share prices.
As SmartCompany reported in December of last year, a survey by market research firm On Device asked iOS and Android users across the US, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and China about their use of instant messaging apps.
When asked which mobile messaging app they used weekly, 44% of respondents nominated WhatsApp, ahead of Facebook Messenger (35%), WeChat (28%), Twitter (19%), BBM (17%) and Skype (16%).
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