According to the Economic Times of India, Google is working on a service similar to WhatsApp, which is very popular internationally with over 500 million monthly users. Google lost out to Facebook’s $19 buyout of WhatsApp earlier this year.
While WhatsApp is popular in the U.S., it has a bigger following internationally, as it allows people to bypass sending SMS messages, which in many countries are more expensive than here in the states.
Recently, Google has ramped up Hangouts, integrating its Google Voice service and positioning it as an all-in-one, cross-platform communication solution. So it’s a little peculiar why Google isn’t pushing Hangouts for its Android One effort.
It may simply be a technical matter, as the new service would purportedly not require a Google login at all, and support Indian language and voice-to-text services. The effort may be to build a less Google-centric service with a wider appeal to a region just beginning to join the smartphone revolution.
The story behind the story: Google is partnering with regional handset makers in India to build low-cost, stock Android devices. The Android One initiative is a way to attract people who have yet to buy a smartphone on the subcontinent and hook them into the Android ecosystem.
The phones went on sale last month and cost around $100. Google is working with regional handset makers Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek.
Plans are to expand Android One beyond India, with HTC, Asus, Lenovo, and others to jump on board.