Update: WhatsApp denies the rumor
Digital Trends claims that Google is negotiating to buy the hugely popular messaging app, WhatsApp – with the company said to have rejected initial offers and to be holding out for a price said to be close to $1 billion (via Gizmodo).
Google is on record as acknowledging its weakness in the mobile messaging field, with Digital Trends arguing that the acquisition makes perfect sense.
There are rumors that Google Babel will combine Google’s disparate communication services under one roof, but the platform still needs to do something to innovate in this space; mobile messaging has been taken over by smaller apps and Facebook has made a major push as well. Google hasn’t given an answer to this competition. Even Google Product Manager Nikhyl Singhal confessed to GigaOM in June of last year that “We have done an incredibly poor job of servicing our users here.” Messaging is a huge, gaping hole in Google’s mobile strategy.
Google Voice already offers most of the features of What’s App making the acquisition primarily a subscriber play, but we’re not exactly holding our breath on this one. Remember Google already has some Bable thing being cooked up, so adding something huge like this might put a wrench in the works.