Popular mobile messaging service, WhatsApp, has finally gone free on iOS. While it was always free on Android, WhatsApp used to cost $0.99 on iOS, which also made it among the all-time top 10 revenue grossing apps on the App Store. Despite growing competition in the mobile messaging space, WhatsApp has maintained its leadership, claiming over 250 million monthly active users with more than 27 billion messages processed in a single day.
The move of making WhatsApp free on iOS is particularly interesting considering its paid status would have been a barrier for a big chunk of iPhone users especially in emerging markets who don’t buy paid apps from the App Store. However, WhatsApp is not exactly free as it would charge $1 every year after the first year. That’s the same case with Android, though we are yet to hear of anyone who’s been charged after the first year and the free period automatically gets extended.
WhatsApp remains one of the few free services that doesn’t make revenues by serving ads to users. (WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum explains why WhatsApp doesn’t sell ads here.) It also does not advertise its services anywhere, unlike rival WeChat that has roped in football star Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador.
Setting the iPhone app free could be WhatsApp’s way of responding to competition for the moment while it prepares to release new features. The latest update, for instance, adds the ability to share multiple photos and backup chats on iCloud. We here the company is also working on features like push-to-talk, which could be released in the near future. You can now download WhatsApp on your iPhone for free from here.