Telegram Launches Premium Subscription, Crosses 700 Million Users

Telegram Messenger has launched a paid, premium tier with more features and additional bandwidth for heavy users — reports TechCrunch.

The Premium subscription increases the max file size of multimedia messages to 4GB from 2GB, enables faster downloads, and allows paying customers to follow up to 1,000 channels (up from 500 for free users), create up to 20 chat folders with up to 200 conversations in each, pin up to 10 chats, and link up to four accounts to the app.

In addition, Premium users can convert voice messages into text, set animated profile pictures, and get access to exclusive stickers and reactions. They will also get an ad-free experience.

Telegram Premium costs $4.99 to $6 USD depending on the region. The company has not revealed its intended pricing for the subscription plan.

According to Telegram, going the paid subscription route for monetization will help keep its development “driven primarily by its users, not advertisers.” Earlier this month, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said the move will also serve to answer calls for additional storage/bandwidth from users.

“After giving it some thought, we realized that the only way to let our most demanding fans get more while keeping our existing features free is to make those raised limits a paid option,” he said.

The popular mobile and desktop messaging app recently crossed 700 million monthly active users. Paid subscriptions will help monetize the platform.

Durov has promised that some of Telegram’s core features will remain free for users and that new ones will continue to be developed and added for non-paying customers.

“Today is an important day in the history of Telegram – marking not only a new milestone, but also the beginning of Telegram’s sustainable monetization,” the company said in a blog post on Sunday.

“This update includes over 100 fixes and optimizations to the mobile and desktop apps – eliminating bugs, improving speed, and expanding minor features.”

The new update also adds support for animation rendering at higher frame rates for devices with high refresh rate screens, like Apple’s new iPhones and iPads that have ProMotion displays.

Telegram has gone from commanding 10% of the global mobile messaging app market between itself, WhatsApp, Facebook’s Messenger, and Signal in Q3 2019 to 34% this quarter. The app swiped the bulk of its user base from Messenger.

Image: Sanford C. Bernstein

Telegram last year debuted a migration tool to help users import chats from WhatsApp, Line, and KakaoTalk, which likely helped boost conversions.

This is the first time a mainstream messaging app with hundreds of millions of users has introduced a paid subscription for everyday users, so it’ll be interesting to see how the user base reacts to it.

What do you think of Telegram locking some new features and expanded functionality behind a paywall? Would you have preferred to see the platform monetize users through additional advertising instead? Let us know in the comments below.