Google set to take on WhatsApp with new free messaging service

‘Last month, Google sent top product manager Nikhyl Singhal to India to do a recce of the messaging app ecosystem in the country as the company looks to catch up on an opportunity it lost to others,’ The Economic Times said.
‘The Google messenger is in early stages of development and is likely to be launched in 2015, sources aware of the plans said.’

The app will be available for free, and will not require users to register with their main Google account, it has been claimed.

Singhal, a Director of Google+, Hangouts, and Photos, will visit India next month,

India, which currently has 815 million mobile connections is expected to become the world’s second-largest smartphone market behind China by 2019.

Having failed with a rumoured £6 billion bid to acquire Whatsapp earlier this year, Google hopes to take it on with its own product.

Whatsapp, which uses a freemium model and requires users to pay after one year of use, has 600 million monthly users around the world.

Whatsapp, which uses a freemium model and requires users to pay after one year of use, has 600 million monthly users around the world.

Japanese application Line has 490 million users, China’s WeChat has 438 million, and Israeli IM Viber now has 400 million, months after it was acquired by Japanese electronics giant Rakuten for £558 million.

It comes as Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, gained European Union clearance on Friday for its proposed $19 billion takeover of mobile messaging startup WhatsApp in a deal setting it against the telecoms industry.

The landmark deal is the largest in Facebook’s 10-year history and will give it a strong foothold in the fast-growing mobile messaging market.

WhatsApp is poised to become a potentially powerful rival to companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telecom Italia with its plan to add free voice-call services for its 450 million customers later this year.

The European Commission said the Facebook-WhatsApp deal would not hurt competition.

‘We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market. Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps,’ European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
Reuters was the first to report on Sept. 25 that the deal would be cleared unconditionally.. U.S. regulators nodded through the deal in April.

WhatsApp and its rivals such as KakaoTalk, China’s WeChat and Viber have in recent years won over telecoms operators’ customers with a free text messaging option, posing a serious threat to the sector’s revenues from this business, which totalled about $120 billion last year, according to market researcher Ovum.

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