Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been defending the social network’s $19bn (£11.4bn) takeover of messaging service WhatsApp – insisting that the chat app is really worth more.
Watch this video from the Daily Telegraph showing Zuckerberg’s speech below:
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Zuckerberg said the company was a “strategic fit”.
Asked about the huge price tag, Zuckerberg, said: “I just think that by itself it is worth more than $19bn. I mean it is hard to exactly make that speech today because they have so little revenue compared to that number. But the reality is that there are very few services that reach a billion people in the world. They are all incredibly valuable, much more valuable than that.I could be wrong. This could be the one service that gets to a billion people and ends up not being that valuable. I don’t think I am.”
The comments follow the announcement that WhatsApp will add a live voice messaging function its its chat app within the coming months- presenting another major challenge to telecoms firms.
WhatsApp already has voice message function but only in pre-recorded form- the new service will allow message to be sent in real time.
CEO Jan Koum said the voice service will be deployed for Android and iPhones this spring, with Blackberry and Microsoft and Nokia phones coming later.
‘We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year,’ Koum said 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.’
Koum added: “The same values of the leading messaging platform in the world will be the same on voice. We’re going to focus on simplicity and we will make sure the same gold standard will be applied.”
WhatsApp’s expansion into voice represents an increased threat to mobile operators. As with its free text messaging service, calls will be routed via smartphone internet connections and so has the potential to erode traditional revenue streams for networks.
WhatsApp’s strong brand consumer brand also means it will more directly challenge Skype, the popular free calls app owned by Microsoft, and Google Voice.
Meanwhile, Mr Koum said there were “no planned changes” to WhatsApp’s policy not to display adverts to its 465 million monthly users.
The service is initially free of charge, with a 69p-a-year charge kicking in after the first 12 months.