WhatsApp and LINE Take Aim at Mobile Carriers

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Mobile messaging services WhatsApp and Japanese rival LINE have recently announced new voice-calling features, and if one thing’s for certain, it’s this: mobile carriers aren’t happy about it.

Mobile messaging app WhatsApp unveiled its plans to start offering free voice-calling for its more than 450 million customers later this year in February, just days after being acquired by Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) for an impressive $19 billion. The company aims to have voice-calling available by the second quarter of 2014, according to a Reuters report.

Japanese messaging app LINE launched its own flat rate voice-calling feature, called LINE Call on Monday, expanding on an already existing feature. Voice-calling will debut on phones running Android in eight different markets: Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand, and the U.S.; users must download the most recent version of the app to access the flat rate calling feature.

It’s hard to say just how big of an impact mobile messaging apps will have on mobile carriers long term, what is certain is that the rise in messaging apps is draining revenue from telecom companies. Thanks to WhatsApp’s recent acquisition by Facebook, mobile carriers can look forward to a revenue cut of approximately $32.5 billion, according to a recent Mashable report. By 2016, that number will likely rise to more like $50 billion.

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