Mobile messaging service WhatsApp has reached 500 million users, only months after being acquired by Facebook for $19bn.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum made the announcement in a brief blog post, and said the service had seen fastest growth in countries such as Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia as photo and video sharing rockets.
“Our users are also sharing more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos every single day,” said Koum. “We could go on, but for now, it’s more important that we get back to work – because here at WhatsApp, we’re just getting started.”
WhatsApp has been gaining significant ground since it launched in 2009. When Facebook acquired the service in February, its user base was said to be 450 million active users, 70 percent of whom are active every day.
Subscribers are able to use WhatsApp free for a year, and are then charged $0.99 annually if they wish to continue using the service.
After buying WhatsApp, Facebook claimed the service would continue to operate as a separate product from its own Messenger service.
Koum has always claimed WhatsApp will remain a clean, user-friendly service with “no ads, no games, no gimmicks.”
In contrast, Facebook has always defended its use of targeted advertising, as its chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg did on Tuesday, while speaking at the company’s first SME client council in Ireland.
The acquisition is the biggest tech deal of the year, beating Lenovo's $2.3bn buyout of IBM's mid-range server business and the $2.91bn it paid for Google-owned smartphone maker Motorola Mobility.
It is also much bigger than Google's $3.2bn purchase of connected home company Nest Labs with its products now starting to go on sale in the UK.
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