WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services around, serving almost a billion people globally on a multitude of operating systems that range from our beloved Android to iOS, BlackBerry, and even Windows Phone. While, for many of us, the $1 annual fee that WhatsApp charges is neither here nor there, it can be a huge stumbling block for some users who don’t have access to card payments. In its efforts to attract yet more customers, WhatsApp had decided to drop the annual fee in its entirety.
The change in practice should begin being noticed from today onwards, although it may take a couple of weeks to propagate through all the various versions of the app on the respective platforms. Dropping the $1 charge should ease the anxiety of being cut off from the service after the initial 12 months period is up. For those that recently re-upped your subscription, it would appear that the fee will stay in WhatsApp’s coffers, with no refund being offered.
So the question has to be asked, with the subscription fee being dumped, how will WhatsApp make money? After all, Facebook didn’t spend $19 billion to buy the messaging app to provide a free chat app for the world to use out of the goodness of its heart. For its part, WhatsApp states that it has no plans to introduce third-party ads, going on to say that:
“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam”
This is good news for WhatsApp users, although I’m sure that the carriers won’t be too happy about this development. What do you think of WhatsApp dropping the $1 annual fee? Did it previously affect your decision to use the messaging app? Let us know in the comments below.