One of the most popular free instant messaging apps in the world, WhatsApp, has now gone “free” for iOS devices, meaning that you no longer have to pay $0.99 to download. Instead, the application has now move to a subscription-based model, with an annual fee of $0.99. Most likely, as the subscription isn’t live yet, there will be a 1 year trial period, just like on Android, after which you will have to pay the yearly fee.
Those who have purchased the WhatsApp app before won’t have to buy the app again, as this will be the case only with new users. If you come to think about it, you’ll benefit from this change only for a short while, because on the long run, you will end up paying more and thus, the company will have bigger profits. WhatsApp faces strong competition all over the world from apps like Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, Path and Facebook Messenger.
WhatsApp is now “freemium”, will charge you $0.99/year
WhatsApp is copying the Freemium model from games, where developers choose to release a game up-front for free and then charge for various items through in-app purchase. Maybe the annual subcription fee is just the start of how the company plans to mull more money from its users.
A great example in its market is Line, Japan’s preferred instant messaging app has made a whopping $58.9 million in Q1 of 2013, relying on in-app purchases and stickers sales. Facebook Messenger and Path have did the same and WhatsApp might also embrace this in the near future.
WhatsApp dates from 2009 and has a strong presence in European markets; in Asia, India is one of its most successful markets. WhatsApp even claims that it is bigger than Twitter, having more than 10 billion messages sent and 17 billion received per day and more than 250 million users. CEO Jan Koum also said
We do have a manifesto opposing advertising. We’re proud of that. Who likes advertising?
The app has also been updated, now allowing attachment of multiple photos at once in chats along with a way to back up and restore your chats using iCloud. You can enable it by going to Settings->Chat Settings->Chat Backup. Also, the update has added URL schema support for third-party apps.