The massively popular instant messaging client WhatsApp which maintains a freemium model, will soon offer its service for free in developing countries like India. A representative of the company announced today that WhatsApp will not collect the $1 annual fee for some time that the service charges at other regions.
WhatsApp is free to use for the first year, and charges $1 per year after it. The latest move to make WhatsApp free will allow the company to lure in several more customers. The service already has over 600 million active users, and it wants to take it beyond 1 billion.
But unlike other apps, the service doesn’t cater users with ads, and it plans to keep it that way. In separate interviews, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum had announced that WhatsApp won’t be getting ads.
Speaking at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, Vice-president for business development Neeraj Arora said that the company does intend to monetize through WhatsApp, but won’t be adding ads to it.
“Monetization is on the cards. It will happen over the next few years. We believe in the subscription model and not in advertising as people do not like to have ads as they converse.”
The company also has tie ups with many telecom operators for several interesting data plans particularly made in favor of promoting WhatsApp. It will be interesting to see what path does the Facebook-owned service takes to generate revenue. In the meantime, the service has updated its app to allow users to know when their message has been read.
WhatsApp will also be adding the voice-calling feature to the service next year.Further reading: Instant Messaging Service, Microsoft, WhatsApp, Windows Phone