Facebook paid at least $16 billion to buy WhatsApp, a messaging application that has about 450 million users worldwide.

What's WhatsApp?

WhatsApp enables its users to communicate via SMS and MMS text messages for free between a number of different platforms, including the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Nokia and Windows Phone. In addition to texts, users can also send images, audio media and video. They can create group chats as well.

The company, which is based out of Montecito, Calif., allows for the messages to be free by using the same Internet data plan that’s used when smartphone users browse the web or check their email.

For a one-year trial, interested smartphone owners can sign up for WhatsApp for free. After the year trial runs up, a yearly fee of $.99 is charged. Included with the $.99 fee is the assurance that no adds will pop up throughout the mobile messaging experience.

What's App Promises Anonymity From Facebook

Now that WhatsApp has been purchased by Facebook, the company is promising its loyal user base that it need not fear any changes.

"WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee,” a blog post read on the company’s website. “You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you're using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication."

Touting WhatsApp’s significance in the tech industry was investor Jim Goetz. "WhatsApp has done for messaging what Skype did for voice and video calls," Goetz said, adding, “There's no other home grown technology company that's so widely loved overseas and so under-appreciated at home."

– Chelsea Regan

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