Google to Launch Own Mobile Chat App to Rival WhatsApp

Oct 03, 2014 08:37 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Google will launch a mobile messaging application that might be on the lines of popular app WhatsApp, the Economic Times newspaper reported.

The app, which will be a free service, will be launched in India and other emerging markets soon.

Last month, Google sent top product manager Nikhyl Singhal to India to do research of the messaging app ecosystem in the country.

Singhal, who is a product management director for Hangouts, Photos, Google+ core & Platform, is also touring other countries in Asia Pacific.

Besides WhatsApp, the mobile service will compete with other popular apps like Line and Hike, once it launches.

"Google would agree that it missed social and missed social on mobile. But then Facebook had to buy WhatsApp and Instagram for the same reason," said Benedict Evans, former mobile analyst and a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, according to ET.

Of its the 600 million WhatsApp users, 65 million are in India.

Google's new app is said to be in the early stages of development and should launch by 2015.

The Mountain View, California-based company is also looking at localization, by adding Indian language support and voice-to-text messaging, the newspaper said.

A Google spokeswoman said the company didn't comment on speculation.

"Around four years ago, there were at least close to 15 messaging apps with over 1 million daily active users and that didn't include Whatsapp," said Aakrit Vaish, who quit his job at mobile analytics company Flurry to launch Haptik, an instant messaging-based app, according to Economic Times.

Earlier, Google had offered $10 billion to purchase instant messaging service WhatsApp, which was bought by social networking site Facebook.

Unlike other Google products, the service won't force users to use their Google login, according to the paper. The company is also considering adding Indian language support and voice-to-text messaging.

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