The popular cross-platform messaging client WhatsApp is giving its iPhone application away for free for a limited time. The app ordinarily costs $0.99 and gives users a way to get around SMS fees by letting them send messages to other members of the service over the internet, in an identical way to competitors like Kik, Viber, Facebook Messenger (which recently dropped its account requirement for Android), and many others. The Android version of the app will remain free to download, with a $0.99 yearly fee kicking in after the first 12 months.
As noted by The Next Web, WhatsApp is ad-free, relying on app purchases to fund its service, so the giveaway cuts directly into the company’s bottom line. The upside is that by positioning itself as a free download just before the holidays, WhatsApp could leverage new iOS users to get some more traction in a very competitive segment of the app marketplace.