Google denies bidding for WhatsApp. Zuck meets with worried carriers.

|By:, SA News Editor

Media reports that Google (GOOG +0.5%) made an offer to buy WhatsApp are "simply untrue," says Android/Chrome chief Sundar Pichai. Fortune had reported Google offered $10B for the mobile messaging leader, and others suggested Google was even willing to top Facebook's (FB +0.7%) $19B offer.

Pichai's remarks come shortly after Mark Zuckerberg met with top mobile carrier execs, including Vodafone (VOD -1.3%) CEO Vittorio Colao and Orange (ORAN -3.6%) CEO Stephane Richard, to address concerns carriers are being reduced to "dumb pipes" as services such as Facebook and WhatsApp proliferate, and in doing so eat into voice/SMS revenue.

Zuck is looking to enlist carriers such as Vodafone and Orange in its Internet.org initiative to provide free access to basic Web services in emerging markets. Colao recently said offering free Facebook access to Vodafone subs "does not make any sense" for the carrier.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp rival Telegram has rocketed to the top of App Store charts in many countries since the Facebook deal went down, and WhatsApp saw a weekend outage. Telegram claims to offer better security than alternatives, and also features a Snapchat-like self-delete option for message threads.

Though no WhatsApp rivals come close to matching the service's 465M MAUs and network effect, Telegram's growth highlights how rivals can quickly gain a following by leveraging phone contact book listings to connect users.