Monday, 10 February 2014

Yet another free year (yay!): did anyone ever pay for WhatsApp?


WhatsApp is a great service. OK, it doesn't have an off switch, but anyone with a rooted phone can fix that. That's a small price to pay, considering that WhatsApp can do a lot more than SMS and MMS.

How small of a price to pay? It's supposed to be a little under a euro per year. For me it's a lot under a euro per year. In fact, I never paid for WhatsApp, and it seems that they don't even want my money.

What's that?


I've been using WhatsApp for years. And all those years there were rumors floating all over the world wild web claiming that some day I'd have to throw WhatsApp a few coins to keep apping.

And then WhatsApp extended my free trial. And again and again and again. To date they never ever asked me to pay. Just now I received a notification that I have another free year. My free trial got extended to 14 March 2015.


There are a few methods to hack your way into using WhatsApp for free. You can delete your WhatsApp account, then set it up again after (re)downloading the app with a new Play Store Gmail address, then restore your old WhatsApp messages from a backup. This way WhatsApp thinks you're a new user with a recycled phone number. Popping your SIM card into an old Symbian phone (and then putting it back into your Android) is another way to extend your free trial.

But what's the point of tricking WhatsApp if it sends you a message every year telling you that they don't want your money? I don't know anyone who ever had to pay for WhatsApp. It seems that everybody gets their trial extended year after year. A quick Google search digs up lots of people who keep getting their trial renewed for free. Some get a renewal 'till next year, some until 2022, some for life. People who really had to pay are few and far between.


Why do so many people get their free WhatsApp trial extended over and over again? Is it because there are so many free alternatives (Viber, BBM, Hangouts, Skype, ChatOn, etc.) that making people pay for a chat client is no longer a viable business model? WhatsApp has the "System (installed apps)" Android permission, so if WhatsApp sees you have a few competing chat apps installed it may decide that making you pay will just encourage you to use competing apps instead. Or maybe I just got another free year because I popped my SIM card into a shiny new phone with a shiny new Google account a few months ago? My phone number didn't change, though.

That makes me wonder how WhatsApp is ever going to make money. After all, they promised they would never ever pollute their app with ads. Will they finally start charging when they run out of money, or will they break their promise and add ads anyway, like so many other online services did despite their promises?


Did anyone out there ever pay for WhatsApp because their free years didn't get extended anymore? Did anyone switch to the competition when their trial really ran out? Leave a comment below to let us know if your free trial got extended again or not.


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