Telegram has been free to download and use since it debuted on the Play Store, however with the increasing number of users, additional funding needs to be found.
The company has been operating off a single large donation, from Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov, but this is not an effective way of running a business. The platform needs to become self-sustaining.
Pavel Durov notes that a company in this kind of conundrum has two options, to either start earning money to cover the costs or be sold to the highest bidder as was the case with WhatsApp sometime back being sold to Facebook, now Meta.
The founder notes that selling Telegram is not an option, as the world needs a place where users are respected and high-quality service is ensured, which leaves the company with the only option of earning money to cover the increasing costs.
Telegram Premium is the solution, and it is already in the works. The beta version of the app as reported by Android Police has exclusive reactions and stickers among other things.
If you download Telegram right now, you will find the words “Telegram is free forever. No ads. No subscription fees.” However, mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi on Twitter has noted that an upcoming version of the app has a new tag line which reads “Telegram provides free unlimited cloud storage for chats and media.”
Dropping the ‘free forever’ tagline is an indication that the premium version of Telegram might soon be introduced
Alessandro Paluzzi goes on to mention that subscribing to the Premium version of Telegram will also add a star badge to your chats and profile to indicate that you are a premium member.
The mobile developer fails to mention other benefits of being a premium member aside from having exclusive reactions and stickers that will not be available to the other free users
In an earlier blog release, Telegram’s founder says that every feature that is currently free will remain free. The company will only add new features for business teams or power users.
Some of the features to be added might require more resources than regular messaging, and the money generated from premium users will be channelled into availing these needed resources.
Regular users who do not need extra features will still be able to use Telegram for free, forever.
The founder also talks about advertisements as a source of revenue. However, he maintains that all parts devoted to messaging, including private 1 to 1 messages and group chats, will remain free of ads.
Channels will therefore be the target of these ads, with the company considering developing their own Ad Platform for these public one-to-many channels.
Once the ads are introduced, owners of these channels will also stand to get free traffic in proportion to their size, while artists who will be making premium stickers will also receive a part of the profit.
Whether these measures will be enough to make the platform self-sustainable will be interesting to see. However, with Telegram hitting 500 million users, operating off a signal donation from the founder had to become unsustainable at some point and alternatives had to be found.