India an important market if we want to reach 1 billion users: WhatsApp's Jan Koum

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has said that India is an important market, if the app aims to hit the one billion mark.

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has said that India is an important market, if the app aims to hit the one billion mark. He made the remarks in an exclusive interview to Economic Times at the ongoing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.


Koum told ET, "India is important... we want all smartphone users (in India) to be on WhatsApp. Then if that number is a billion, then it's a billion. Currently, (it's) over 40 million. So we still have some way to go before we hit a billion."


He also added that where the voice-calling ability of WhatsApp is concerned, it will be rolled out iOS and Android first. "We will make sure voice works just as well. I understand that there are bandwidth constraints, network constraints, but we will take the same approach to voice that we took to (messaging) five years ago, which is focus on quality, simplicity, performance so that it's the world standard for voice," he said.


Jan Koum founded WhatsApp along with Brian Acton five years back and that app currently has close to 450 million users. Last week, Facebook announced that it was acquiring the app for a massive $19 billion, in one of the biggest technology deals ever.


Zuckerberg, also attended the MWC in Barcelona and defended the WhatsApp deal, saying that as far as he was concerned the app was quite cheap. “I think that by itself, [WhatsApp is] worth more than $19 billion,” he said, in an on-stage interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Monday. “If we can do a good job with WhatsApp, grow it, it will be a huge business.” He also said that WhatsApp’s data policy would not be changed. The data policy says that the company does not store the content of messages.


He added that the messenger app will also not be pushed into making any money for the next five years at least, so that it can focus “on connecting people.”


Where the next one billion is concerned, India makes the most sense in terms of an emerging market for WhatsApp. However the app has been facing increasing competition from rival messaging apps such as Line, WeChat, Nimbuzz, which have done exceedingly well in India. We had earlier reported that WeChat was the second most downloaded app in India on iOS in 2013.


Read the full ET story here.

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