In a story that makes flabbergastingly (yes, I'm making that a word now) little sense to me, Google is allegedly building a competitor to WhatsApp for emerging markets. That is, a mobile messaging application that combines SMS and internet-based communication in a unified, merged, and seamless platform. This does not sound like any kind of Google product I am aware of... said somebody who has literally never heard of Hangouts.
Apparently, the big difference will be that this new service won't require a Google account, which must be a nagging issue for consumers in emerging markets for some reason or another I frankly do not understand. The hope is that by removing this sizeable (???) barrier to usage, people will start using this not-Hangouts service, which will be free, instead of WhatsApp or Line or one of another half-dozen or so popular mobile messaging services their friends already use which is why they use it and not, say, some random service made by Google.
One of the test markets for this service will allegedly be India, when and if it does come to be, which based on the Times' wording, could happen at some point in the future.