WhatsApp, world’s biggest messaging service has gone free. Waiver of $1 annual fee, which hardly anyone paid in the first place, might not appear to be of vital importance, but the course WhatsApp will take henceforth for monetizing its success would definitely impact its massive user base, which now stands close to a whopping Billion.
How will WhatsApp sustain itself without Annual subscription fee?
Don’t worry, the company still stands by its resolve to keep WhatsApp an ad free experience. So what’s next? WhatsApp explains in the official blog post
“Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.”
Several businesses have already started using WhatsApp for communicating with their customers and now WhatsApp will work on providing such businesses a proper interface to broadcast their messages and to accept inputs from users, and will charge them for the same. WeChat has successfully implemented this business model in China and now sprawls as an enormous ecosystem in itself.
WhatsApp is dominant in developing markets
This is similar to the strategy Facebook adopted with ‘Messenger Platform’ that allows businesses to build an app on Facebook messenger. While Facebook’s Messenger is popular in the west, WhatsApp is Facebook’s access to developing nations and by making WhatsApp free, the company wants to eliminate all inhibitions new users might have before joining the platform.
“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.” acknowledges WhatsApp in the blog post.
This might be the end of WhatsApp as we know it
When Facebook acquired WhatsApp, there was no apparent way they could recover that hefty amount. Still Facebook had no qualms about shelling out 19 Billion dollars for WhatsApp, only because it had most number of active users.
The platform was quickly adopted by all classes of users owing to its simplicity. With time, WhatsApp has gradually added more layers, and with the new revenue model, WhatsApp might he heading towards becoming a complicated affair.
The move will provide platform for small scale industries, local stores and major brands to interact with local consumers. After business interaction on the platform, payment wallets shouldn’t be far behind. And going by the vast WhatsApp user interface, all this has the potential to shape how we interact with brands and shop in the future. You could be ordering food and cabs on WhatsApp making seamless payments via WhatsApp wallet
WhatsApp promises to keep the experience Spam free, but what delicate course they will tread will become clear only after a couple more years.