Is Google creating its own WhatsApp?

Zack Chapepa Avatar


While most software companies find it hard to replicate success from its competition, arguably the best company to follow through with an equally competitive product is Google. They’ve done it with search, email clients, social and mobile computing (cue Android) and now they could be doing the same with mobile messaging.

Facebook just closed its WhatsApp acquisition deal in Europe, sealing a deal that came as far as the beginning of January. Reports across different sources claim that Google has been keeping a watchful eye.

This sounds like something that could ring true considering Facebook beat Google in a bid where Google was only willing to shell out $10 billion for the messaging platform (Facebook upped the ante to $19 billion).

So, what is Google doing, are they planning on launching a product similar to WhatsApp? The Economic Times of India says this could be true.

This Google strategy for entering new industries is not exactly new. The internet giant tried to catch-up with the social media wave by introducing Google+. Clearly it still has a long way to beat Facebook (or you could say they failed, it does make sense that way).

The same thing also happened when Google tried to replicate Apple’s success in mobile, but only got away with dominating in market share alone without seeing anything close to the kind of profits Apple enjoys.

Can Google pull this off?

Nikhyl Singhl, Google’s top product manager for services like Hangouts, Photos, Google+ core and Platform, paid a visit to India on a trip to further understand the messaging ecosystem that has been such a huge success for WhatsApp. His journey is reportedly also taking a turn to other Asian countries.

This is aimed at rolling out a new messaging platform to developing countries — the first one being India – the same place where WhatsApp has gained its foothold.

Google will likely find its way in a sea of messaging apps like WeChat, Line and Viber by leveraging its long time Google Messenger app. The app will reportedly not require that you sign up with your existing Google credentials (Read: WhatsApp’s no user data policy) and it will likely be free. It could also come pre-installed on the newer, cheaper phones that run on Android One.

Another point to note is that there has been speculation surrounding the documents leaked that will require Android devices to come with additional apps pre-installed, the Google messenger app could be included on this list.

Google has the cash reserves, the talent and the platform to pull this off but can they snatch away enough users from WhatsApp?

There are some hurdles on this front, chief of which is creating a product that’s enough to give people reason to switch from the leading IM platform.

The other challenge is to find a way to steer away users from the WhatsApp brand (honestly, good luck with that). Just look at how people say “WhatsApping or Apping” when referring to sending a message, the same way all toothpaste is called Colgate.

Google could have a fighting chance to make up for mobile messaging thanks to their grip on a very dominant operating system. However, getting to where WhatsApp is right now is an uphill battle no matter how much you throw at the wall.



  1. Ndini

    heard the facebook is introducing peer to peer money transfer in facebook messenger which will eventually include money transfer and group payments so couple that with facebook stores we could have a sticky ecosystem brewing with facebook/whatsapp . just eimagine being able to pay using whatsapp. so my verdict is the only way google can have a chance is by preinstalling the app in all android phones

  2. wburwa

    google has taken far too long to realise that these dead simple mobile apps are the future. they continue to invest heavily in gmail yet slowly gmail is dying. they perhaps could have a fighting chance if they introduce an app that is dead simple to use, that offers something exciting. maybe a voip app that uses multiple identities like cell no, email address etc.

    1. Unknown

      Gmail is dying? bahahahahaha! wait that was a joke right? 😛

      1. L.S.M Kabweza

        I actually agree to an extent about Gmail. It’s not dying now but email (as it was known 10 years ago, which is what Gmail still is) is surely not growing as fast as other communication methods like Facebook inbox. if growing at all that is

    2. tinm@n

      I don’t know which Google you’re talking about but its certainly not in this time.

    3. Mhuka Huru

      What are you smoking?

  3. Evans

    If its free then they will definitely have a fighting chance!

    1. Zack Chapepa

      True, I realised thinking for a second that this could work the same way imessage works on iPhones. Maybe they just need to do some rebranding, come up with a catchy name

  4. Zimbo

    I use hangouts a lot. Its now my default sms client as well, it works very well. Not denying that the im side of it is with a few ‘wise’ friends and family, plus an obscure gaming community 😉 WhatsApp is the best because everyone else is there already. I dont use fb messenger coz most of my fb frends are not active. The active ones are the ones from my preschool>highschool days and hapana nyaya.

  5. Beatnyama

    I agreed with most of your assertions in the article except this part.

    “The same thing also happened when Google tried to replicate Apple’s success in mobile, but only got away with dominating in market share alone without seeing anything close to the kind of profits Apple enjoys.”

    This is trying to compare apples (pun intended) and oranges. Google wanted that market share in the first place. Apple is a hardware company and the software is just a freebie of top of the hardware. For Google, a large market share means more eyes balls on their properties. Have you seen the number of apps on Google Play that advertise with Google Adsense? And these apps people get to use and see them on their mobile phones. And since people use mobile phones everywhere, this is a big plus for Google as they are an advertising company first and foremost. Besides this there’s the bundled Google Apps and services eg search which redirects people to their search engine from where they make their billions.

    If they can control your content or your mobile operating system, they can stay relevant and have more eyeballs to advertise to. Basically more money. So they have replicated Apple’s success and turned it into a real profit and billions

    1. Zack Chapepa

      Hello, Beatnyama

      Google is generating slim profits from their mobile ad business, actually a greater percentage of their profits in mobile are coming from iOS.

      They still have their business grounded on the desktop and this is why they are pushing aggressively on putting more apps out there by default so they can mine more data to redirect elsewhere. Apple and Samsung are the only companies seeing huge profits (Samsung is already in trouble now)

  6. DEMO

    i think this will be gret, and will bestup Whatsapp by far! esp here in Zimbabwe. coz todazvakachipa stereki.

  7. Tiisetso


  8. Nqabelo

    Show show it is good to as

  9. Nqabelo

    Hy paeple what a u doing to night . Way dont u just sleep.

  10. Nqabelo

    Dont foget me . Jock line

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