WhatsApp launches video calling to take on FaceTime, Google Duo, Skype

WhatsApp launched its video calling feature first in India, its biggest market of 160 million users. 

The new service could strain Indian telecom networks struggling to provide speeds sought by customers of data services.

WhatsApp follows local rival Hike to launch video calling in India. The messaging service owned by social network Facebook will also compete with Skype and Google Duo. 

WhatsApp will expand its video calling feature outside India in phases. “We are launching for over 1 billion users worldwide on iOS, Android and Windows,” said Manpreet Singh, products lead, WhatsApp. The video calling feature works on slower networks, the company claims. 

While data consumption might spike because of WhatsApp’s new feature, it will also affect plans by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance Jio to launch video calling services in India. 

"When WhatsApp launched its voice calling feature, we saw a dip of 30 per cent in calls across the board," said Rajan S Mathews, director-general of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India. 

WhatsApp has no plans to monetise the video calling service but is will seek ways to generate revenue. “We are trying to figure out what is a good commercial option for us,” Singh added. 

On integration with Facebook Singh said, “We leverage Facebook’s infrastructure for voice traffic. We will do the same for video calling, but no integration.”

WhatsApp launched its messenger service in 2009 and voice calling in 2015. WhatsApp is available in 10 Indian languages. 

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