Whatsapp service to be payable

Whatsapp service to be payable
# 31 January 2013 13:48 (UTC +04:00)

Baku. Ali Ahmadov – APA-Economics. The days of free use of the popular social media tool WhatsApp Messenger may be numbered.

The software developer has started informing Android phone users in Hong Kong they will have to pay 99 US cents (HK$7.72) each year if they want to continue using the application.

The fee will also apply to Blackberry, Windows and Nokia phone users. They get free service for one year, after which their credit cards will be charged the fee annually.

WhatsApp, which provides unlimited free text messaging, has long been a top-selling application in dozens of markets, including the iPhone Apps Store, Google Play for Android users and the Blackberry market.

For iPhone owners, the policy to pay 99 US cents once will remain for now, with users allowed to download the app as many times as they want for the same Apple account.

There are between 100 million and 500 million Android users, according to Google's webpage. Thousands have, since the announcement, flocked to complain on the webpage.

One Samsung Galaxy S3 owner was angry, saying the fee was discriminatory.

"This is completely unfair, why should others enjoy the service after paying the fee once, while Android users have to renew their subscriptions every year?" Lo Yi said.

Another user complained his service was suspended even with seven days remaining before his free period expired.

"There is no problem with the fee, but why can't I send messages seven days before my subscription expires? WhatsApp is completely wrong on this business practice," said Chu Chun- kwan, who uses Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Many others said WhatsApp may not be their future choice for communicating with friends.

They said Line, developed by Naver Japan Corp, which allows free voice calls and emoji messages, is an alternative as well as WeChat of Tencent.

WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both veterans of Yahoo and based in Santa Clara, California, have written on their blog that they are charging users because they do not want to sell ads.

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