Instant messaging app WhatsApp Messenger, which boasts over 250 million active users, could end up beating Twitter.
WhatsApp Inc, rhe company that enebles instant messaging has now changed its iPhone app from a paid to a free download, even as it introduced the $0.99 annual subscription that it already charges on Android and other devices.
"We are updating our business model for new iPhone users going forward. As you know, we used to charge iPhone users a $.99 one time payment, while Android and other platforms had free service for the first year and paid $0.99 a year after that," explained WhatsApp in a blog post.
"From now on, we've simplified our business model so that all users on all platforms will enjoy their first year of WhatsApp service for free, and only pay $.99 per year after that."
Existing users of WhatsApp on iPhone would not need to pay the annual subscription, though. "WhatsApp will be free of charge for the rest of your life," the company has promised, which also set out grand ambitions for its life as a fully-freemium product.
"We feel that this model will allow us to become the communications service of the 21st century, and provide you the best way to stay in touch with your friends and family with no ads getting in the way."
WhatsApp had led a new wave of messaging apps that has eaten into mobile operators' text messaging revenues.
The app was always free on Android, it cost $0.99 on iOS, which helped make it among the all-time top 10 revenue grossing apps on the App Store.
Despite increasing competition in the mobile messaging space, WhatsApp had maintained its leadership, claiming over 250 million monthly active users with over 27 billion messages processed daily.
WhatsApp continues to be among a number of services whose revenues are not tied to ads served to users. Its services too are not advertised, unlike rival WeChat that has roped in football star Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador.
According to commentators, the offer could be WhatsApp's response to competition for the moment while it prepared to release new features. With the latest update for example, users would be able to share multiple photos and back chats on iCloud. The company was also said to be working on features like push-to-talk, which could be released in the near future.