The instant messaging scene is a rather crowded one, with services trying to stand out by offering special features, especially those related to privacy and security. Fame, however, also has its price, especially for messaging platforms that offer their services completely free of charge. Often, that either requires having a large company behind it or a dose of ads — or, sometimes, both. For more privacy-minded platforms, however, the latter is definitely out of the question, as the use of ads would violate the very principles that may have endeared it to millions of users. Short of selling out to a big company — which would also be a betrayal of trust — Telegram is taking the road less traveled and will be charging users a small fee for extra features they may find useful.
Despite a few controversies, including some that reportedly violated its commitment to protecting its uses, Telegram enjoys a great deal of popularity to the point that it can rub shoulders with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple iMessage. In fact, the company has disclosed that it has a whopping 700 million active monthly users in total. That naturally puts some strain on the Dubai-based company’s resources, especially with many users requesting more features. Its only recourse, Telegram says, is to offer a paid tier.
This puts the platform in a completely different league than its main rivals like Signal, WhatsApp, Messenger, and others. Those are completely free services that don’t offer any sort of premium subscriptions — instead, they serve up ads, which Telegram is wary of doing. In some regions, the messaging service does show sponsored messages, but only on public one-to-many channels, according to TechCrunch.
Telegram’s premium features detailed
The driving force behind Telegram’s decision to go premium is apparently user requests for more features and, the company claims in its blog post, a desire among users to help financially support the service. While the company is more than happy to deliver additional features, it couldn’t do so in a feasible way for free. It doesn’t want to go completely paid, though, as that would lock out millions of users who embraced the service because it is free. The middle ground, Telegram says, is to offer the features that these users demand at a price while keeping already existing features free of charge.
What Telegram Premium offers is basically an extension and expansion of what’s already available on the free tier. This includes the ability to follow 1,000 channels instead of only 500, create up to 20 chat folders with as many as 200 chats each, the ability to convert voice messages to text, and, of course, exclusive premium stickers. Paying users will also be able to avoid seeing ads, which is not something that all users see anyway.
The price for Telegram’s premium tier hasn’t been disclosed yet and the update will roll out “gradually,” according to Telegram, but TechCrunch claims it may fall between $5 and $6 per month. Given that Telegram will be the first of its kind to offer a premium subscription, it’s not yet clear whether that price is too high or too low. In the meantime, however, the company promises that it won’t be abandoning free tier users once this subscription plan rolls out, adding more features that everyone will enjoy, whether you paid for it or not.