Popular WhatsApp Messaging Service Kills $1 Subscription Fee, Will Remain Ad-Free

WhatsApp is eliminating its $0.99 subscription fee in favor of a new business model, one that won't bother you with advertising. Well, not for now, anyway. Instead of replacing the nominal yearly subscription fee with ads, WhatsApp will experiment with bringing businesses on board.

"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," WhatsApp explained in a blog post. "That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight."


It was just shy of two years ago that Facebook acquired the cross-platform messaging service for $19 billion. Nearly a billion people around the globe use WhatsApp to communicate with each other, and while ads might seem like the obvious way to monetize the service, Facebook has proven there are other ways to generate revenue from services.

You may recall that Mark Zuckerberg was under pressure to bring ads to Facebook several years ago. Instead of doing that from the outset, he made it possible for businesses to have their own pages. You can 'like' Pepsi, for example, or even Pepsi Max, along with thousands of other products and businesses, and interact with them in a number of ways.

Over time, sponsored content has found its way into Facebook feeds, but the service is still free and nobody's getting hammered with ads. It's likely Facebook will take a similar approach with WhatsApp. That means the immediate focus will be on getting more businesses into the fold, and then down the road figuring out how to best monetize the effort without ruining the experience for users, and perhaps even enhancing it.

In the meantime, the WhatsApp experience will be as it always has been, sans the dollar you had to fork over after a free one-year trial.
Tags:  messaging, Apps, WhatsApp