WhatsApp is now free for all to use. The co-founder of this app announced it today during his rare appearance at the DLD conference in Germany.
Currently, the mobile app has 990 million users. With this number, it’s just a few days away from reaching a billion of active users. Although Jan Klum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, wanted to have 10 million more users before he appeared at the conference, he certainly can’t have everything.
The company confirmed that the app’s numbers of users are growing by one million users a day.
Since it’ll be totally free, the 99 cent subscription fee will be gone. The company hasn’t made much money from its subscription fees anyway. The fees were only used to cover the costs of operating the app. In 2014, Facebook bought the app for $19 billion, which is said to be 950 times its revenue in 2013.
The fee was only applicable to a handful of countries, such as the US and the UK, where most of the residents had credit cards or were more likely to pay for some things through their mobile phones.
In the Netherlands, the app’s fee was dropped because half of the country doesn’t use mobile payments, even though the people here were using the app. In a blog post,
“That’s why we’re happy to announce that WhatsApp will no longer charge subscription fees. For many years, we’ve asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well. 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.”
Thanks to Facebook, the company can now afford to let go of its subscription fee. When the app was acquired by Mark Zuckerberg’s company, WhatsApp had to justify its price tag by making more money. It needed to focus on growing its number of users. During the deal talks, Mark told the app’s founders that he would give them the freedom to concentrate on improving user growth for the first two years under his company.
Two years after, the app is about to hit a billion of users. Even though the app will drop its subscription fee, it will start inviting businesses to its network and may find new ways to charge them.
With its growing user base, WhatsApp is bombarded with email inquiries from businesses wanting to know how they could access the network. Unfortunately, the company just ignored those emails. Some businesses tried to set up a shop on the app. For example, you can book a table at a certain restaurant by texting it on WhatsApp. Unfortunately, WhatsApp doesn’t have analytics and bots, which have become a fast tool for many businesses.
But don’t expect to see marketing-focused features, just like on Kik, as WhatsApp founders hate advertising.