WhatsApp is now a Facebook property, and with that, good things can come. For example, just days after the announcement that Facebook acquired WhatsApp, it is now being revealed that the popular social messaging platform will soon support audio calling, a feature that is also found on Skype and Google Hangouts.
With 450 million registered users having access to making calls over the Internet via WhatsApp, network operators would be facing a familiar challenge, but one that is even greater than before.
"We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year," said CEO of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. "I think we have the best voice product out there. We use the least amount of bandwidth."
The current version of WhatsApp only supports voice messaging and not voice calls outright. With some experience in providing voice-related services for users, it shouldn't be too difficult for WhatsApp to pull off a more than competent voice calling service.
If WhatsApp does manage to come up with a good enough voice call service, carriers should view it as a threat to the core of the cellular call business. However, instead of making a big deal about the changes going on in the tech industry, carriers could very well come up with ways for consumers to spend more on data. Spending more on data could cover some losses, but it could also backfire.
One company that should fear WhatsApp's transition to voice calls is Microsoft. Since the company bought Skype, it hasn't done much with it rather than implement the service in several of its other services and hardware. This move by WhatsApp could make Skype irrelevant, as users tend to gravitate towards the service with that will connect then with the most people.
Furthermore, how would this affect Facebook's partnership with Microsoft? Microsoft has over 2 percent shares in the social network and in Facebook Messenger, not to mention the fact that Facebook Messenger sues Skype for voice calls.
We're guessing things might change to the point where Facebook Messenger with voice calling via Skype, is replaced by WhatsApp. In addition, since Microsoft is working on its own social network, So.cl, that 2 percent of shares might just go up for sale in the near future.