Jan Koum, co-founder and chief executive officer of WhatsApp, announced at the 2014 Mobile World Conference on Monday that Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FB) new $19 billion purchase will get voice calling in the second quarter of this year.
Voice calling would make WhatsApp more competitive to other mobile messaging apps already feature voice calling -- like KakaoTalk, Line and BBM -- that are popular in Asian countries such as Korea. Voice calling could help WhatsApp, as well as Facebook, grow in these areas.
Voice calling will come to the iOS and Android versions of WhatsApp, while Windows Phone and Blackberry users will have to wait until later this year.
Koum didn’t specify many details about voice calling on WhatsApp, but did say that it will be free. Right now, WhatsApp users can send text and picture messages to one another for free for the first year before paying an annual $0.99 subscription.
“We will focus on simplicity,” Koum said.
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WhatsApp also shared some updated user statistics since the announcement that Facebook acquired the mobile message app for $19 billion in cash and stock. WhatsApp reported that it has reached 465 million monthly users and 330 daily users, a 15 million increase from the numbers it reported in December.
Koum also echoed many of the points he made after the acquisition announcement: That WhatsApp will operate independently of Facebook and that advertisements will not be added to WhatsApp.
The announcement also coincides with the fifth anniversary of the founding of WhatsApp.