After many years during which we had to pay $0.99 every twelve months, WhatsApp is finally free to use. The announcement was made by Jan Koum, CEO and one of the co-founders of the company during the DLD 2016 conference held in Munich. As a result, WhatsApp will search for new ways of getting in contact with the users.
Even though the cheap annual subscription fee was more symbolic, users will be relieved when they will find out they no longer need to pay it. However, in its place, the company might place adverts and sponsored messages, which might prove even more annoying. Fortunately, this is not the case as WhatsApp has reassured us. Not only would the application be a useless place for such ads, but there is no way the company could make them valuable. Since their communications are encrypted end-to-end, WhatsApp cannot scan for keywords which are used in adverts.
Furthermore, as the company was bought by Facebook in February 2014 for $19.3 billion, there are plans of integration between both platforms. However, data sharing is excluded and thus there will be no way advertisers can use Facebook likes to serve ads.
So what does WhatsApp plan? It seems the company will focus on the communication between users and certain businesses and organizations, for instance banks or airlines. You might soon be able to talk to your bank about a fraudulent transaction or with an airline about cancelling your flight. This is not the first time someone thought about this idea. Facebook is already testing this feature for its new app Facebook M, and Google is currently developing a similar application. We can expect Facebook M to be somehow integrated into WhatsApp.
Jan Koum had also made some references to the fact that the company is working on several improvements, such as video-calling. As a result, the application is expected to become a fierce contender against other services like Skype, iMessage, Google Hangouts and FaceTime.
WhatsApp is a communication platform working as part of a certain subscription business model. Its users can send various messages, images, videos, recordings and locations from their smartphones. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, WhatsApp has been growing the number of its users, thus reaching about 900 million in September 2015, and becoming the most popular messaging application worldwide.
While WhatsApp is finally free to use, it might take quite some time for other features to be released. Both WhatsApp and Facebook have a history of slow updates, but it will surely be worth the wait.
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