WhatsApp to Offer Free Voice Calling by Mid-year : CEO

Freshly acquired by Facebook (FB) for an eye-popping $19 billion, the messaging service WhatsApp has announced another noteworthy development.

Speaking at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the tech company’s chief executive, Jan Koum, announced that the new Facebook company is working on adding free voice-calling into the WhatsApp messaging app in the second quarter of the year.

WhatsApp’s voice service is expected to be available first on Google (GOOG)’s Android and Apple (AAPL)’s iOS platform, then expand to others like Windows Phone (MSFT) and Blackberry (BBRY), Koum said.

“We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world,” he added.

Citing market researcher Ovum, Reuters News noted that the news of the world’s biggest messaging service adding voice calls to its service “will likely be seen as worrying for telecom operators worldwide, which got about $120 billion from text messaging last year.”

Koum also said that WhatsApp’s $19 billion acquisition by Facebook would not interfere with his vision to develop the product to reach the next 1 billion users. No advertising will added to the service, he said.

Around 70% of WhatsApp’s 465 million users use the app every day, according to Facebook. The service claims it is currently adding over one million new users a day.

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