When Whatsapp Adds Voice Calling, WebRTC will be Used by 500 Million Users

May 22, 2014

Looking for real disruption with WebRTC? Wait for Whatsapp voice calling.

Whatsapp & WebRTC

A month ago, Whatsapp announced a new milestone: 500 million users. And for Whatsapp, that’s ACTIVE users – 500,000,000 people using the service at least once in the past month.

It is a huge number.

Right after the acquisition of Whatsapp by Facebook, an announcement was made: Voice calling on Whatsapp will be available in Q2 2014. We’ve got one more month to go.

Just like Comcast, Whatsapp will be opting for WebRTC as its technology.

How do I know that?

An educated guess. Whatsapp is a small outfit. A non-existent business model, so no real revenue being generated (or at least not anything to write home about). They need free codecs for that, preferably with a free media engine. Best one that fits? WebRTC.

It isn’t going to be a pure WebRTC service, so don’t expect to login to Whatsapp on your Chrome browser and connect calls with friends. It would be nice to have that, but Whatsapp is mobile only.

It will enable Whatsapp to offer long distance calling and Whatsapp OUT services if they see fit, and make some money on the arbitrage of long distance calls. With their size, it should work.

It also means that 500 million people around the world will have access to voice calling via WebRTC in their app.

Why is that important?

  • WebRTC is production grade and ready to go for those serious enough to take the journey
  • This is going to be another proof point for WebRTC’s viability
  • It will be the largest messaging OTT player that adopts WebRTC

One month to go, assuming no real roadblocks for their developers. And assuming I am correct with my predictions.

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  1. It makes a lot of sense that they will use WebRTC. In this case WebRTC will simply be a media engine they stuff into their application. Not sure they will even say they are using it. It is a decision between buy/build a media engine and handle all the many problems associated with supporting many different phone models or just use the best media engine out there for free.

  2. Unfortunately the whatsapp application is blocked in my country and we can’t use it.
    so if they add webrtc audio/video to it, or not. it won’t work here :P

  3. How are they going to overcome in iPhone…? do you have any clue about this ?because WebRTC is not currently available on iPhone

  4. Just stumbled across this old thread. Its been more then Q2, no words on WA voice calling, even beta version does not have it. I feel voice scene is also fast becoming saturated with so many players already in market that a new enterent may find it hard to negotiate (WA may have strong msngr user base, but not present in voice yet) Or otherwise it could simply be understanding with cellular operators, ‘you give special WA plans, we’ll not spoil voice call party’ (Atleast in India, cellular association wants to control what you use your data for.)

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