Search engine giant Google is reportedly weighing up a $1bn takeover bid for the mobile messaging service WhatsApp.
According to online reports, Google has been trying to negotiate the buyout for over a month now, but WhatsApp are apparently "playing hardball" in order to secure a more profitable deal.
There had been rumours circulating that Facebook, a major rival of Google, had also been in talks to purchase the cross-platform messaging service, which may have prompted Google to act quickly.
It has been reported that WhatsApp generates around $100million a year, processing up to 18 billion messages a day, across 750 mobile networks in 100 countries around the world.
With Blackberry working hard to improve its signature BBM messaging service, the focus on applications that make cross-platform communication easier has never been greater. The growth of traditional SMS messaging has been steadily declining, and this is thanks in no small part to messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
Furthermore, Facebook's $1bn takeover of photosharing network Instagram last year has given smaller businesses more confidence to try and sell their companies to the major Silicon Valley firms.
Mobile messaging has long been a chink in Google's armour; amid whispers of the company working on its own unified messaging service, Google Product Manager Nikhyl Singhal said last year that they had done "an incredibly poor job of servicing our users here". The takeover of WhatsApp, widely considered the most popular of the cross-platform mobile messaging apps, will go some way to improving Google's functionality in this area.