Report: WhatsApp extending premium subscriptions to Apple's iOS
Cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp will revamp its application for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, rolling out annual subscription pricing in line with its monetization model for other mobile operating systems.
WhatsApp Messenger enables users to share text messages, voice notes and photos with contacts across the globe, without international messaging fees; the company has chosen to avoid advertising support, instead offering its iPhone app for a one-time download fee of $0.99 while billing Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone users $0.99 per year after a one-year free trial period. Speaking to Dutch journalist Alexander Klopping, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said the firm will shift the iOS version to the recurring subscription model later this year.
"We're relaxed on dates, but definitely this year. It's on the roadmap," Koum said, adding the pricing change will apply solely to new iOS users.
Koum states WhatsApp users across all mobile platforms now transmit roughly 17 billion messages daily (7 billion inbound and 10 billion outbound), with more than 100 million users on Android alone. He said the firm has no plans to extend its service to the desktop, however: "We feel strongly that the world is moving to mobile and [so] we want to be mobile-only," Koum explained, calling the desktop "a secondary experience" for many consumers.
Asked about adding video services to WhatsApp Messenger's features set, Koum said "Definitely not this year" but did not rule out the possibility moving forward.
Koum also dismissed the idea that over-the-top messaging apps like WhatsApp are causing friction with mobile operators by cannibalizing SMS revenues, a longtime carrier cash cow. "We actually have really good relationships with a lot of carriers," he said, citing WhatsApp's partnership with Hong Kong operator Three, which allows subscribers to access WhatsApp when they travel internationally for the equivalent of about $6 per day. "We understand that a lot of people are switching to our product instead of SMS, but we look at it as evolution," Koum explained.
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