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Messaging app 'WhatsApp' for iOS to become subscription based by year's end

Popular cross-platform messaging app WhatsApp is planning to eschew its current one-time purchase fee for iOS users, and move to a subscription model akin to how the title is distributed on other platforms like Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.

In an interview on Monday, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said the subscription model will be applicable to new users, who would be able to download and use the app free for one year before being subject to an annual fee, reports TechCrunch. No decision has been made regarding pricing, but the structure will likely follow the company's other apps, which carry a recurring cost of $1 per year.

Currently, iOS users are required to make a one-time payment of $0.99 for access to the app's ad-free services. Existing users are expected to be grandfathered in to the new pricing structure when the change takes place sometime this year.

Koum, who revealed the upcoming change to Dutch journalist Alexander Klopping, was unclear on when the pricing switch would occur, saying, “We’re relaxed on dates, but definitely this year. It’s on the road map."

With the rise of smartphones and data-based messaging, WhatsApp has become enormously popular and transmits 17 billion messages a day. The publication noted that there are over 100 million account holders using Android devices alone.

Established firms like Facebook have recently boosted their own messaging services, with the social network's latest offering touting free VoIP calling across North America.

As for WhatsApp's future, Koum said a desktop client won't arrive anytime soon as he feels the world is quickly moving to an all-mobile ecosystem. Video streaming is also not in the cards for 2013, but could be a possibility in the coming years.

WhatsApp is still available in the App Store for the one-time fee of $0.99.