WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum has announced at Mobile World Congress that free voice calling will be introduced to the instant messaging platform.
"While it appeared a simple one at first glance, Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was always going to be one that saw a shakeup of the services offered by both platforms (regardless of whether they are merged together or not). All roads lead to a future where social networks are true communications backbones, rather than a peripheral bit of fun," James Briscoe, managing director of digital media agency Unique Digital, told CBR.
"Voice calling could be just the start, as Facebook has just bought itself a slice of the increasingly important voice search pie," he said.
Voice-related functionality is becoming increasingly important with the likes of voice-controlled search and free voice calls taking things to the next level.
Apple's Siri voice search function brought about a revolution when it was first unveiled in the app store back in 2010. It has since been made an ever-present feature on iPhones and its innovative approach and importance is reflected in the app's presence in a range of advertising campaigns over the last few years.
Plans are also well underway to make Google completely searchable by voice: once efficient and accurate ways of coding this functionality into the mammoth search engine are created, things will move to the next level.
"Business owners all over the world need to sit up and take notice of this announcement: Mark Zuckerberg is investing heavily in voice function because they will become an increasingly vital part of everyday life," said Briscoe.
"VOIP functionality not only provides an opportunity for people and businesses to save money, but is also a great example of how organisations can increase revenues using data generated by services that are provided free of charge."