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WhatsApp plans to offer internet calls

BARCELONA: Major announcements from WhatsApp, the Internet messaging services, are like city buses: You can wait a long time for one, then two show up at once.

On the heels of its $16 billion deal to be bought by Facebook, WhatsApp announced on Monday that it would start offering free voice services later this year – diversifying beyond its main messaging service into phone calls.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, the tech company’s chief executive, Jan Koum, said users in the second quarter would be able to make Internet calls through their smartphones, similar to services that are already available on rival Internet messaging offerings like Kakao of South Korea and Viber of Cyprus.

WhatsApp’s voice service is expected to be available first on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems, then expand to others like Windows Phone and Blackberry, he added.

Mr Koum, who was born in Ukraine before moving to the United States as a teenager, also said on Monday that WhatsApp would launch a mobile brand in a partnership with the German cellphone carrier E-Plus.

"The world is moving to data very quickly," Mr Koum said in a speech.

"Data is the next generation in what is driving the mobile industry."

– The New York Times
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