Telegram Premium: the new features for iOS beta users

Telegram appears to be testing yet another way for the uber-popular messaging app to start generating revenue. Telegram iOS app beta testers noticed something new in version 8.7.2as first seen for android police– A new set of stickers and reaction emoji that you can only unlock “by subscribing to Telegram Premium”.

Telegram Premium, of course, does not exist yet. (And Telegram did not respond to the edge request for comments). But right now, users with access to Telegram’s TestFlight builds and its test server can send each other reactions of exploding hearts and flying ghosts, a sticker where that cute yellow duck is unbearably sad, and a few other new things. And it seems that ultimately even the recipients of those messages will need Telegram Premium to see them; If you send a sad duck to a non-subscriber, you’ll get a prompt to sign up.

No word yet on how much Premium will cost, when (or even if) it will be released more widely, and what other features might be part of the subscription. But a subscription like this has been coming from Telegram for a long time. Founder Pavel Durov said end of 2020 that in order not to run out like WhatsApp or disappear like so many other messaging apps, “Telegram will begin to generate income, starting next year.” He teased an advertising plan on the platform’s big channels, saying Telegram will “add some new features for business teams or power users” that would come at a price.

From what little we know so far, Telegram’s approach to paid features seems to follow the Discord model of messaging app monetization. Discord Nitro Subscription It costs $10 a month and gives power users more toys to play with: more emoji, better bandwidth for video and audio, improved badges and avatars, and more. Nitro isn’t something users need to use the service, but it’s been popular enough to convince Discord that it’s a long-term business model.

Durov also promised in 2020 that all parts of Telegram that have been free, and all parts dedicated to private messaging, will remain free. Actually, that’s the trick with messaging apps: the way to make money is not to get in the middle of chatting between friends, but to find other things that users can do in and with the app. That’s why the WeChat-style “super app” idea is so popular. And, as Telegram has expanded into live streaming, chatbots, cryptocurrencies, and more, it will likely continue to find ways to make money.

But make money without angering users? That is more difficult. When the ads began appearing on Telegram channels last fall, for example, authors and subscribers alike revolted so aggressively that Durov said that build a way to turn them off. (If I’m reading tea leaves here, I’d bet disabling ads is a benefit of a Premium subscription.) That may be part of the reason why Telegram seems to be taking this release slowly and starting small rather than pivoting the platform to free.

Still, with more than 500 million users on the platform, Telegram may only need to convince a small percentage to subscribe in order to become the breakeven business Durov has always said it wants to be.

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