WHATSAPP will drop its annual 69p in-app subscription fee within the next few weeks, co-founder Jan Koum has confirmed. But the hugely popular Facebook-owned app plans to replace the yearly cost with a worrying new revenue stream.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is dropping its yearly 69p subscription cost in favour of a new model
WhatsApp is ditching its annual 69p subscription fee in favour of a new business model, founder Jan Koum has confirmed.
The WhatsApp creator made the announcement this morning at the Digital-Life-Design Conference in Munich.
WhatsApp is free to download on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows 10 Mobile and lets users send text, video and audio around the world using a wifi or mobile data connection. The hugely popular app, which now boasts a staggering 900 million users across the globe, charges users a yearly 69p subscription to keep the messenger ad-free.
But that could be about to change.
WhatsApp allows users to send text, video, audio – and even make calls – for free
Founder Mr Koum said the subscription model “really doesn’t work for some people” and that other cross-platform messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, are completely free to use.
WhatsApp plans to replace the 69p charge by connecting companies directly with users via the app.
Mr Koum admitted they have not settled on a final plan yet, but as it stands, it appears WhatsApp will charge multi-national companies to conduct customer service chats and calls via WhatsApp.
For example, an airline could use the app to contact customers about a flight cancellation or upcoming delays.
WhatsApp says despite the changes, its goal remains to avoid spam and unwanted advertising within the hugely-successful app.
In an official blog post, the messaging firm wrote: “Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads.
“The answer is no.
“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.”
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum with actress Lily Collins at the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony
WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for a staggering $19 billion, back in 2014
Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp for an eye-watering $19 billion in 2014, is already testing out the feature in its own Facebook Messenger app.
Select US companies have been given the opportunity to pay for the ability to message their customers directly via the app.
Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner confirmed the possible business-to-consumer (B2C) integration at a technology conference in Boston.
“We think that enabling that B2C messaging has good business potential for us,” he said.
The news comes after WhatsApp was named one of the worst smartphone apps for user privacy.
WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton are known for their staunch anti-advertisement policy within WhatsApp.
“We wanted to make something that wasn’t just another ad clearinghouse,” the pair wrote on the official WhatsApp blog.
“Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has always been notoriously anti-advertising within his app
WhatsApp claims its goal remains to avoid spam within the free app
“At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.
“Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product. At WhatsApp, our engineers spend all their time fixing bugs, adding new features and ironing out all the little intricacies in our task of bringing rich, affordable, reliable messaging to every phone in the world.
“That’s our product and that’s our passion. Your data isn’t even in the picture. We are simply not interested in any of it.”