Facebook interested in buying Whatsapp

Facebook has been in talks to buy the multiplatform mobile messaging app Whatsapp, according to TechCrunch.

After recently reaching its billionth user earlier this year, Facebook is looking to expand into its next billion with mobile being the key, CEO and Mark Zuckerberg remarked on the occasion.

"The big thing is obviously going to be mobile. There are 5 billion people in the world who have phones." said Zuckerberg told BusinessWeek.

The social network is looking to further bolster its better than expected mobile growth, after it announced last month that the company had made $150 million (£94 million) in the third quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Whatsapp, a California-based startup founded in 2009, has enjoyed phenomenal success as a smartphone app available on all mobile operating systems. Like Skype and other messenger services, it allows users to send instant text messages, images, audio and video messages. The advert-free app has around 100 million daily users across more than 200 countries.

However, some critics have questioned the likelihood of the ad-attracting Facebook buying an ad-free app whose founder, Jan Koum, has repeatedly lambasted the business model of selling ads.

"Advertising isn't just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it's all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out... And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen. Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product," said Whatsapp co-founder Jan Koum wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

This latest rumoured acquisition follows that of another popular app, Instagram, which Facebook bought earlier this year for a supposed $1 billion (which was later confirmed to be $715 million (£445 million)).

Image Credit: Flickr (abulhussain)