Update: Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s business development head, told AllThingsDigital today that the company is not holding sales talks with Google. Arora declined to comment further.
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Google is reportedly in talks to acquire cross-platform messaging application WhatsApp. According to sources close to the negotiations cited by Digital Trends, talks have been going on over the past four or five weeks, with the team behind WhatsApp supposedly “playing hardball” as they push for an acquisition price close to $1 billion.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard such rumors surrounding the popular messaging platform. Back in December, Facebook was said to be interested in buying WhatsApp, although the going price tag wasn’t publicized in that case. Around the same time Google supposedly approached WhatsApp a first time.
The search giant already owns a number of communications platforms built around a few different services, including Google Talk and Messenger for text, voice and video chats on mobiles. Curiously, last month a new rumor surfaced that the company was looking to bring all these disparate services under one roof with something called Babble, so adding yet another one to the mix would seem to go against those plans.
But Digital Trends contends that the acquisition is “a no-brainer” given the rise of what they call the “messaging app-meets social network” trend. Indeed, apps such as Line have gone from zero to 130 million users in just under two years, while new entrant MessageMe has rocketed from zero to one million users in two weeks.
WhatsApp passed 100 million downloads on Google Play in November and has remained among the top paid apps on Apple’s App Store in 119 countries for quite a while. The company has kept mum on actual download numbers per platform, but recently announced they’re serving 17 billion messages per day (7 billion inbound, 10 billion outbound). That’s up from 1 billion daily messages a year ago and easily bests iMessage’s 2 billion milestone revealed in January, which should give you an idea of the service’s reach.