Presently, WhatsApp is a paid app on the App Store with a one-time price tag of $0.99 (it goes free every once in a while). On other platforms, the app itself is free with a complimentary free usage period, after which users have to pay an annual subscription fee.
The change of plans were revealed by WhatsApp’s CEO Jan Koum to Dutch journalists, which were relayed by TechCrunch:
The new subscription model would apply to new users, Koum said, and would likely follow the same pricing structure as its other apps, which are free for the first year and then cost $1/year, compared to the single, for-life $0.99 purchase that users make on iOS today. “We’re relaxed on dates, but definitely this year. It’s on the road map,” Koum said.
When asked for a reason behind the change, Koum said “We want to keep things simple,” perhaps referring to the unification of their revenue model across all platforms. Koum added that the service has no plans of building a desktop client for WhatsApp, noting that messaging is predominantly mobile.
To be clear, if you already have WhatsApp on your iPhone, this change won’t affect you. We’ll let you know when this change comes into effect, till then if you’ve not already bought WhatsApp, you can purchase it from here since it’ll work out to be a cheaper deal than the subscription model.
With competition from Facebook, Apple and Google that offer their messaging services free of cost, it will be interesting to see if WhatsApp grows at the same pace when it switches to a subscription model.