Telegram, the popular free chat software, is now offering paid subscriptions. Founder Pavel Durov announced recently that a paid service will be available later this month that will go above and beyond the present free experience.
The assertion is that users who do not subscribe to Telegram will not only not have their experience degraded, but will also benefit from being eligible to (freely) access specific premium freebies, such as the ability to view “oversized” files, media, and stickers sent by Premium subscribers, or to add premium reactions to messages that have already been pinned.
According to Durov, the move is meant to respond to user demand for more storage and bandwidth without jeopardizing Telegram’s ability to provide a basic service to everyone else.
“After considerable consideration, we determined that the best way to give our most ardent fans more while maintaining our existing features open is to charge for those increased restrictions,” he adds.
The founder’s post didn’t reveal the cost of the premium package. However, press claims of forthcoming premium features and pricing have surfaced in recent days, implying that it could contain things like greater file upload capacity, voice-to-text conversion, quicker download speeds.
Telegram Premium, according to Durov’s post, is “a membership plan that enables anyone to buy additional features, resources, and speed.”
He’s also using it as a kind of patronage layer, promoting Telegram super fans who want to contribute financially to the network. Those that do will gain access to a Premium “club” that will be the first to receive new features, he adds.
However, considering Durov’s use of the word “support,” it’s possible that he’s expecting to turn a significant number of Telegram super fans into long-term financial patrons.
Despite the fact that Telegram has been around for nine years, the company’s strategy for commercializing its 500 million+ monthly active users is still unclear.
Telegram has had to rely on outside finance to cover its server bills in recent years, including over $1 billion in debt loans last year.
In terms of monetization, Durov has stated that he wants a privacy-friendly, non-intrusive strategy to maintain long-term usage.
Still, Telegram’s ethical founder is weary of depending on ad revenue, writing today, “I genuinely think Telegram should be paid largely by its users, not marketers.”
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