Google working to acquire cross-platform WhatsApp messenger?

Popular messaging application WhatApp is being courted by Google for an acquisition, according to DigitalTrends. The publication says the acquisition price of WhatsApp could be as high as $1 billion, though Google hasn't given official word on the matter.

Google is rumoured to be working to release its own Babel messenger which would tie together its communication services in one feature. Given WhatsApp's success in cross-platform messaging, such an acquisition may make sense for the folks in Mountain View. 

WhatsApp is available for Android, BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, iOS, Series 40, Symbian (S60) and Windows Phone. It was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both of whom came from long stints at Yahoo. In 2011 WhatsApp revealed that users were sending one billion messages a day on the service. To put things in perspective: on New Year's Eve 2012 the number grew to 18 billion messages in one day.

This isn't the first time Google has worked to acquire WhatsApp. In early December 2012 TechCrunch reported that Facebook and Google were both very interested in buying WhatsApp. WhatsApp responded with the typical "no further information to share at the moment".

WhatsApp's popularity comes from relieving customers of their text messaging plans and using data instead, and works especially well when texting internationally. The mobile apps work very well and are popular on their respective app marketplaces.

Google is known for its high-profile acquisitions, so WhatsApp isn't out of the question. In the summer of 2012, Google purchased popular mobile apps Sparrow and QuickOffice.

Could WhatsApp and its team play a key role in the launch of Google's Babble and tie-in to Android sometime down the line? It's certainly a great idea that we'll be watching to see if it materialises.

Interestingly, Babel made an appearance within Gmail when a user was cleaning his Gmail inbox. Could it be launching at Google I/O in May?