The WhatsApp messenger is going to be completely free now. There is no longer an annual fee of $1.
Whenever you create a new WhatsApp account, or whenever you reinstall it, it tells you that the service is totally free for a year and after that you will need to pay a minuscule amount. In fact, it is not even a complete $1, it is $ 0.99 per year.
The 19 billion-dollar company is fast expanding into new territories. In fact, recently, the Brazilian government decided to put a temporary ban on the instant messaging app because people are bypassing the local telcos to call each other.
Although the world is getting crazy about the WhatsApp Instant Messenger, the annual fee was becoming a sort of a barrier. Many people were not embracing the service fully because they think that once the free period is over, the service will stop and they will no longer be able to exchange messages with friends and family. Besides, even those who don’t mind paying an annual fee of $ 0.99 in most of the cases aren’t able to do so because they don’t have a credit card or they don’t want to attach a credit card to their instant messaging service and consequently, they refrain from using WhatsApp as actively as they would have otherwise used it.
Although the instant messaging app is not as popular as Snapchat in the US, in Europe, South America and Asia, it has quickly become the most widely used messaging app and in all these regions, people are not as eager to use their credit cards as they are in the US. The biggest reason behind its popularity is it’s very easy to use, it has a clean interface and it can be installed practically on every mobile phone using almost every operating system.
Other widely used instant messengers are free or more or less free. You can buy credits on Skype to make calls to phone numbers but you can keep on making Skype to Skype calls for free for as long as you want. For more than a decade it was the sole go-to VoIP application for Windows as well as Linux environments. The same goes with Facebook Messenger.
So with the yearly fee out of the picture, how do the promoters of WhatsApp plan to make money? According to this WhatsApp blog post, they plan to collaborate with different businesses and organisations so that important messages can be communicated to you without resorting to third-party ads and spam. How this is done remains to be seen. Facebook is building an entire ecosystem of third-party tools around its Facebook Messenger, may be the same can happen with WhatsApp. According to the blog post linked above, nearly 1 billion people are using WhatsApp all over the world so the audience is already there. They just need to figure out how to leverage this audience without disturbing the equilibrium.