Rumours have it that mobile messaging service WhatsApp may be Google's next big buy. Digital Trends is quoting “inside sources” as saying that WhatsApp is “playing hardball” and eyeing an acquisition price that's “close to $1 billion”. The negotiations reportedly began four or five weeks ago. If this is true and the deal does come through, Google will have a force to reckon with on its side in the mobile messaging space.

It's been rumoured for quite some time now that a mobile messaging service would be the next big buy in the mobile space. It was rumoured in December last year that Facebook was in talks to acquire WhatsApp. However, multiple sources soon informed AllThingsD that Facebook would not be acquiring WhatsApp. WhatsApp also told AllThingsD that the article was a rumour and not factually accurate.


To be acquired by Google? Seems unlikely…

The report notes that Google “can’t afford the time to rebrand and rebuild a competitive messaging app at the risk of entering the game too late – or, it needs to be able to work off the platform WhatsApp has already established and use this technology (and sensically, the user base) to fill out the purported Babble.”

WhatsApp has a large footprint in the mobile messenger market across the globe. The service has users in over 100 countries and is available on more than 700 mobile networks. In fact, WhatsApp's user base is so large that it managed to record 10 billion messages in one day – comprising 6 billion outbound messages and 4 billion inbound messages – in August last year. Also, on December 31, the service saw a record 18 billion messages being processed. The total number of messages comprised 7 billion inbound messages and 11 billion outbound messages. WhatsApp tweeted, “On Dec 31st we had a new record day: 7B msgs inbound, 11B msgs outbound = 18 billion total messages processed in one day! Happy 2013!!!”

WhatsApp is highly popular in India too. In fact, the first round of Consumer Rankings for India by Nielsen, launched in February this year, revealed that WhatsApp was the most engaging mobile app. It found that nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents engage with smartphone messenger service WhatsApp and spend 24 minutes a day chatting, making it the top smartphone app for urban Indian consumers.

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