Six years after its launch, messaging app WhatsApp is removing the $1/year subscription fee.
"Nearly a billion people around the world today rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and family," explained WhatsApp in an official blog post, "that's why we're happy to announce that WhatsApp will no longer charge subscription fees." Previously, the app charged $1/year after the first year. Making the app free officially isn't the only change in store for users. Rather than make up for the lost revenue by adding third-party advertisements and spam, the company is using a different advertising approach. "Starting this year," they added, "we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. This could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight."
The move to make WhatsApp free is very likely to earn the app back some lost users, as the company admits that many people left after subscription fees kicked in (after their first year of use). "Many WhatsApp users don't have a debit or credit card number," they added, "and they worried they'd lose access to their friends and family after the first year." As of late last year, the registered user count on the app was looming around 900 million. And last summer, WhatsApp dove into the iOS market, rounding out its major OS support and significantly contributing to this number.
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