Sharon Gaudin: Google buying WhatsApp? Analyst says, 'Do it'

Every Internet company is working to get a handle on mobile. Figuring out how to get people on the go to use their services and how to make money off it at the same time is the mobile Holy Grail.

So it makes sense that Google might be interested in buying WhatsApp Inc., the mobile instant messaging application vendor. Rumors have been swirling that Google is looking to buy the company.

Deal negotiations began four or five weeks ago, but it's been slow going since WhatsApp is pushing hard for a sale price close to $1 billion, according to a report in Digital Trends . Citing unnamed sources, the article said executives behind WhatsApp are playing "hardball."

WhatsApp is a mobile instant messaging application for the Apple iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. The four-year-old company based in Santa Clara, Calif., was founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koumis, both former Yahoo employees.

While WhatsApp Inc. has not yet responded to a request for comment, Google declined to comment on rumors.

Buying WhatsApp would be a great move for Google, said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

"Google should get it," he said Monday. "Messaging is very big. It gets a lot of use and offers enormous potential for both gathering data and advertising. Facebook's messaging has become threatening to Google. Time to make a move."

Facebook, a Google rival, has gone from struggling to figure out mobile to having the most popular app and just last week unveiled Home, a launcher for Android-based smartphones.

A WhatsApp acquisition would strengthen Google's presence in mobile.

WhatsApp could help to tie users into the Google family of products, and that could help to slow the growth of Facebook's messaging efforts, Gottheil said.

Google almost certainly would tie the messaging app into Google+, which Gottheil calls "the Borg" of online services. "Resistance is futile!" he joked.

It would make sense to tie the two giants together -- messaging app marries social network. One's use would simply feed the other.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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