WhatsApp’s Koum Reiterates: No Facebook Integration, Voice Calls Coming

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Was it the Crown Prince of Spain attending the interview between Jan Koum and Martin Varsavsky that made the event start over 45 minutes late? Or the fact that if you just sold your company for $19 billion allows you to do whatever you like? That question went unanswered but when Koum and Varsavsky finally took the stage at Mobile World Congress, albeit 45 minutes late, and once again re-iterated how little things will change now WhatsApp is own by Facebook.

Koum said we have “no plans for integration with Facebook whatsoever”.

Answering a question from TechCrunch editor Ingrid Lunden about market consolidation in messaging apps, Koum said he didn’t think there would be much. “It’s important for people to have freedom to use whatever product they want, we have no problems with other people using other apps, so long as they keep using WhatApp.”

He also said they would not be looking to build a product for the enterprise, as they have a huge focus on the consumer. “I hate spam and that’s what happens when you let businesses onto the network.”

Koum said he started WhatsApp just to as a “project for me to learn iPhone development. And I didn’t want to get a real job. We made a beta and got 10 friends to use it. It’s a huge thing to get 10 from zero.”

He said that as an immigrant form Ukraine in 1992, he was acutely ware of the need for communication, which perhaps drove him to create a communication product.

Re-iterating yesterday’s news that WhatsApp will add voice calls later this year, he said the company has a new codec that will be able to manage bandwidth use in order to make voice calls over the app more reliable.

“We haven’t done voice for a long time. When we started experimenting with messaging we knew a lot about the problems of SMS. There has not been a lot of innovation about voice, other than visual voice mail from Apple. We have done recorded voice messaging. The color of the microphone changes when someone listens to the message. When we do something we want to do it better. We’ve been researching voice. We have this adaptive codec that adapts to the bandwidth you have available. We will be able to provide good quality for voice. When it comes you everyone will be able to use it,” he said.

Clearly this would make most mobile carrier executives break out in a cold sweat. However, he also said he didn’t see telephone numbers disappearing any time soon, which might have been some relief to the mobile execs in the hall.

Koum was appearing at the 4Years From Now, the startup event organised by Mobile World Capital at Mobile World Congress.