WhatsApp is to drop its initial yearly subscription of $1 make the service free. WhatsApp has a user base of over 900 million worldwide and the number is growing each year.
Initially, WhatsApp had given the option of a lifetime $1 subscription for some users, while others were given the option of $1 subscription after the completion of their first year. Some users have also had their free period extended several times in the last few years.
In a blog post, the company has said that the subscription model of their business had not been very successful. The WhatsApp blog noted that: "Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they’d lose access to their friends and family after their first year."
"So over the next several weeks, we’ll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service."
The blog also assures users that third-party advertisements and spam would not be allowed in the platform. Instead, the blog says that the company is now testing tools that allow users to communicate with businesses and organisations. Communicating with businesses by users today is a common practice through text message service and calls.
WhatsApp is planning and testing new tools to make communications with businesses easier while keeping third-party ads and spam at bay. However, WhatsApp will face challenges in this approach, with Chris Moore, VP Chat Apps at Nexmo, saying:
"WhatsApp’s decision to target the business community is in no way surprising. With around 120 chat apps worldwide they all face the same problem. They possess huge user bases and need to make it easy for brands to integrate and use their platforms as they monetise communications between customers and brands. Other chat apps, for example WeChat in Asia, are already pioneering brand communications via their platform and is a model WhatsApp could learn from.
"WhatsApp should start by focussing on its dominant markets of North and South America and EMEA, where it has cultural similarities with the brands it will want to work with. As it approaches one billion users, WhatsApp is showing it understands the value it presents to brands as a channel of communication and brands are beginning to understand the value of chat apps.
"KLM is the perfect example of how it is employing an official communications account through a Nexmo mobile API on WeChat to reach users. Nearly 80 percent of WeChat users follow one of the 10 million official accounts on the platform and WhatsApp will be seeking to replicate this kind of lucrative engagement."