When WhatsApp was introduced back in 2009, it came in as a “freemium” communications app that allowed users to enjoy its services for free for the first one year and if they liked it, a fee of $0.99 per year was levied per head.
This was by far the best way that Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the developers of the app, could make money from the app. However, things changed when the mega rich Facebook bought the app in 2014. The social networking company reversed the fee charged annually after the first year of free using and instead, WhatsApp is now offered as a free tool, just like Facebook Messenger, another of the company’s core messaging platforms.
Of course, WhatsApp is not the only messaging app that offers free services to its users, but most of its competitors have found novel ways of extracting revenues from their millions of users across the globe without hurting their user base. Given that the chat app leads the way when it comes to popularity, many have been wondering when or rather how Facebook plans to start making some money from the billions of people that use the app on a daily basis.
In 2014, Facebook paid a whopping $19 billion just to get WhatsApp on its list of products. This is not a small amount of money. Furthermore, no one wants to pay such a huge amount of money just so as to give users free services and make nothing in return. For three years now, Mark Zuckerberg has made zero income from the chat app, yet he continues to pay people to keep on adding more features and basically maintain the full functionality of the app on whatever platforms it’s supported.
One major source of revenue that has meant paying off WhatsApp developers and the rest of the staff that keeps the app going and up to date at all times is Facebook ads. The company has been generating lots of cash from ads displayed on the social networking platform for years now, but it appears that things are beginning to get tougher. Apparently, the amount of money the company is now making from ads is not the same as what it used to make a while back, an indicator that the Facebook ads business is slowing down.
In order to keep the books balanced, the tech mogul has other ideas in plan. As at the time of this writing, WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will let users of the app interact with business entities via a secure platform. All this is aimed at making the app more business-friendly as the company aims to turning the app into a revenue source.
With this tool, the users will be able to see whether a company account has been verified on the chat app before they can start chatting with them. The feature is still in beta and can be downloaded on the Google Play Store, CNBC reports.
The move towards a business-focused WhatsApp is definitely needed in order to keep things in balance. Given that WhatsApp has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users and is already being used by many business organizations to keep in touch with customers, the potential it has is massive. The company has already hinted at this move when it said in a previous blog statement that it plans to test ways for users to communicate with business organizations in the near future. Well, the future is here and apparently, the app will also be joined by Facebook Messenger in serving users with business needs with the same aim of making money for the parent company.
Like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger also commands a massive user base, but most of the app’s users are based in the U.S. With these two taking the business channel, Facebook is set to make even more revenue in the coming years – if everything (or most things) is done right.
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