The instant messaging app keeps being surrounded controversial news stories. After announcing an end to free software licenses for Android smartphones, and demanding that users pay an annual fee of $1, it is now iPhone users’ turn: WhatsApp will also charge new iPhone users that download the service a yearly fee. Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of the company, didn’t provide details as to when the charge will take effect for iPhone users, but said that it will be applied sometime in 2013.

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Until now, while WhatsApp users for iOS only had to pay for the service by purchasing it in the App Store, all other users were able to download it for free, and then pay a yearly license. But this obvious advantage over Android, Nokia, and BlackBerry smartphones was short-lived, and now the stakes are even for all devices.

Jan Koum stated in an interview with Techcrunch that, even though they don’t have a set date, the charge will begin sometime in 2013, and will only be for new iPhone users. Additionally, in case there was any doubt, Koum assured users in the Dutch blog Tweakers that the fee will extend to all platforms.

“We’re relaxed on dates, but definitely this year,” said Koum. He also specified that the new subscription model that will apply to new iPhone users will follow the same pricing model as in the rest of the applications – $1/year.

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