Laura Bernis – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, and Jan Kouw, WhatsApp’s founder, have been the stars on the first day of the Mobile World Congress. The expectation was at its highest after the announcement of Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, and everyone was waiting specially for Zuckerberg’s declarations.
Jan Koum’s turn came first. During his morning conference, Koum has announced that WhatsApp will include phonecalls durins the second semester of this year. From the beginning, the purchase of WhatsApp on Facebook’s behalf has been openly discussed, up to the point that he started saying: “Hello, my name is Jan, and last week we added a Facebook friend”, as Ara newspaper states. In the same way, he declared that WhatsApp has to maintain its “essence” as, if the plan is to reach more than 2.000 million users, Zuckerberg knows.
On the afternoon it was Mark Zuckerberg’s turn. Two hours before the his speech, hundredths of people were queuing in front of the auditorium’s door, blending in this way company directors and journalists, sitting on the floor while waiting. The room’s capacity has been completed by people who has paid more than 7,000€ to assist, and people who were following live from the corridors had also paid around 700€ for their pass. Although declarations about WhatsApp’s breakdown a few days ago were expected, Zuckerberg focused his speech, amongst other things, around his project “Internet.org”, and his ambitious objective of “connecting the world“. However, as Zuckerberg can not succeed alone, he has come to Barcelona with the intention of trying to convince “two or three operators” to ally with his enterprise, and offer basic mobile Internet for free, as some developing countries have already done. Referring to “basic”, as Facebook -according to Ara-, and probably WhatsApp, although Zuckerberg did not make it clear. Therefore, Zuckerberg’s principle aim is for Internet to arrive to everyone, reducing the cost and making it more affordable.
Facebook’s owner also said that WhatsApp “will continue to function autonomously”, which was also said by Jan Koum during the morning. For Koum “WhatsApp has to be independent”, taking for reference Instagram, and for the moment, it seems to be so.
Video summary of the day with the statements of Zuckerberg i Koum here: Mobile World Live.