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WhatsApp on iPhone to charge yearly subscription fee

The subscription is already how customers pay for WhatsApp on Android and BlackBerry, and now iOS is following suit.

Here's a morsel of news for fans of WhatsApp -- the instant messaging app is going to start charging iPhone owners an annual fee to use the service.

Currently anyone using an iPhone or iPad will splash out a modest 69p to buy the app, after which you get unlimited use of the service. That's not how it works on Android and BlackBerry however, where customers download the app for free, and then pay an annual fee of $0.99 (about 65p) after that.

At some point this year the iPhone strategy will fall in line with other platforms, TechCrunch reports, citing interviews with WhatsApp's CEO.

The good news is that it seems the new approach will only apply to new customers, so if you've already shelled out your 69 pence, WhatsApp probably won't be demanding any more from you. It's also likely that you'd still get a year's worth of free use before you have to start paying.

WhatsApp is popular because it costs much less than texting, and lets you send messages, photos and emoticons to pals who are using rival operating systems. iPhone, Android phones, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices all play host to the popular app. A testament to its popularity is that WhatsApp is occasionally plagued by daft hoax messages.

In the same interview, the WhatsApp boss said that a desktop version wouldn't be getting made "any time soon". As for networks getting irate at WhatsApp stealing its SMS customers, the head honcho is quoted as saying, "We actually have a really good relationship with a lot of carriers.

"We understand that a lot of people are switching to our product instead of SMS but we look at it as evolution."

Are you a WhatsApp fan? Would you rather pay every year, or pay once and never have to worry about it again? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.