Facebook acquired the popular cross platform messaging app WhatsApp back in 2014, and now it’s taking steps make it more ubiquitous, by dropping the $1/year subscription fee. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum made the announcement at the DLD conference in Munich, and said that there are no current plans to replace the subscription fees with ads, but will “explore ways businesses can use the service to connect with individuals”, according to a post on Re/code reporting on the announcement.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has taken a long view with a number of decisions on how he runs the business, putting greater emphasis on getting his services in the hands of the most users possible, and then building out monetary solutions on top of that user base. He did it with the News Feed, and with Facebook Messenger, and is now applying the same tactics to WhatsApp.
In a conference call last year, Zuckerberg detailed the long term thinking:
The long term bet is that by enabling people to have good organic interactions with businesses, that will end up being a massive multiplier on the value of the monetization down the road when we work on that and really focus on that in a bigger way.
That isn’t to say that there won’t be advertising or other monetization efforts to come, but Facebook’s focus is on building great experiences (with great traction) first, and then working on monetizing them.
WhatsApp is available as a Windows Phone app, but has yet to see a Universal Windows treatment.