WhatsApp has been the favorite smart phone messaging app for quite some time before being bought by Facebook. When the company was bought, a $1 yearly subscription fee was introduced, steeply driving the app’s user base down. This allowed Facebook Messenger to become the number one messaging app. However, with last month’s announcement, WhatsApp dropped $1 fee and reached 1 billion users.
This speaks volumes about the smart phone user base.
Obviously, the reason why the app’s user base dropped so sharply was the introduction of the $1 yearly subscription; also, as soon as it was removed, users flooded the app again, taking it to never before seen popularity, having it reach one billion users.
But $1 dollar a year isn’t really that much. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest services offered on the market. This means that the money itself wasn’t issue, and that users jumped ship mostly because of two things – principle and convenience.
First, let’s talk about principle.
A huge part of pretty much any user base kind of freaks out when they find out that the product is becoming more expensive. When it comes to something free, however, the introduction of a fee will turn a very big chunk of the users away from the product. But why is that?
Mostly, it’s because of the fear of setting a precedent. If they are ok with paying more, or just to start paying for something that was free before, most users fear that it will set a precedent, urging other products to apply the same tactics.
And they are pretty much right. If competitors see that a company introduced a fee and their users aren’t dwindling, they will go for the same thing. The same goes for making something more expensive, as competition can’t afford to fall behind. These are marketing strategies 101.
Now that we’re done with principles, let’s talk about convenience.
Like I said before, $1 is obviously not that much. But it does involve you making an effort. Even if it’s just to get your credit card out of your wallet and type down some numbers, it’s simply inconvenient. And this why the app’s users dwindled when they introduced the subscription fee.
Now that the fee is no more, users have flocked back to WhatsApp, either because of its superiority as an app, or again out of principle, to show companies that we are willing to use their apps, but only if they are free of charge.
Overall, the conclusion would be that the users themselves are very good tools for the market, allowing it to develop enough, but not enough to become inconvenient to them.
Image source: Wikimedia