Reliance Jio and WhatsApp are reportedly in talks to bring a tailor-made version of WhatsApp for the JioPhone. The talks are still in initial stages, but with the JioPhone booking dates drawing closer, Reliance Jio may want to eke out an agreement with WhatsApp, the largest messaging service in the world.
The report from Factor Daily suggests that talks between Reliance Jio and WhatsApp are “preliminary”. Another source has pointed out that Reliance Jio and Facebook, the owner of WhatsApp, already have an existing business relationship. This refers to the fact that the app store on JioPhone will come with an optimized version of the Facebook app to run on the low-end hardware.
Further, the source also points out that there are technical challenges. Given the fact that the JioPhone comes with low-end processors – Spreadtrum and Snapdragon 205, optimizing WhatsApp to run on this hardware may prove to be a challenge. Additionally, the JioPhone also runs on KaiOS, a forked version of Firefox OS.
Reliance Jio plans to sell millions of JioPhones every week. In fact, the company is preparing to sell as many as 5 million JioPhones starting in September. If this agreement for launching WhatsApp on JioPhone goes through, then WhatsApp could potentially gain millions of new users every week.
With Reliance Jio offering unlimited 4G data to all JioPhone users with its Rs. 153 plan, a lot of new users will be logging on to the internet for the first time. The Facebook app’s availability in the app store on JioPhone is also a good pointer to the fact that Facebook recognizes the opportunity. Having WhatsApp on JioPhone could further add to the 200 million Indian users on the messaging service.
By Rounak Jain
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