Whatsapp becomes new target in tech wars

A year after Facebook bought Instagram and the week when the social media giant plans to launch its Android system, talks are afloat about Google beefing up its allies by taking Whatsapp under its wing.

Though how much the messaging system is actually worth is up for debate – it has been charging iPhone customers US$0.99 per download and has been threatening Android users to pay – Google is said to be considering a cheque of $1bn for Whatsapp.

Whatsapp’s founders have also repeatedly stated in their blog that it will remain an ad-free service.

The acquisition would give the search engine a ready-to-use tool that integrates all the functions of sending instant messages, images, audio and video across almost any mobile platform including Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

Currently, Google’s homegrown chat system, Google Talk, doesn’t allow the sending of images, audio and video, but only immediate chat via video, audio and messaging.

Google’s amplification of its IM offerings is perhaps a necessary edge to compete with Facebook’s latest in-house chat system, which is a key spotlight feature in its up-and-coming Android interface, Home.

So while the integration of sharing and IM seems to be the beacon both mega-giants are striving toward – Zuckerberg has Facebook Home and Instagram while the search engine has Google+ and, perhaps, Whatsapp – who will win the race to the top is yet to be determined.