What’s a measly dollar when you have a real shot at cornering the messaging marketplace? That’s basically the thinking behind WhatsApp’s decision to drop its annual subscription fee of 99 cents.
In its pursuit of world domination, the Facebook unit found that a lot of people didn’t have debit or credit card numbers, which made paying the fee tricky.
That, and potential users were apparently worried that they would lose connections with friends and family after the first year of service -- when the subscription fee kicked in.
WhatsApp assured users on Monday that the change doesn’t mean that ads are coming to its service. Rather, it’s apparently looking into new features that will connect businesses to their customers.
“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,” the company writes in a new blog post. “That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.”
How that will translate to revenue for WhatsApp is not yet clear. Serving as a channel between businesses and customers will certainly generate tons of valuable data, but -- given the high ethical standards of WhatsApp founder Jan Koum -- we don’t expect the app to exploit that fact.
Yet, it just doesn’t seem like Koum and his team are too concerned about making money at the moment.
You might not, either, if you were quickly monopolizing a medium that 's increasingly at the core of consumers’ digital lives.