One messaging app to rule them all!
The easy access of every mobile phone to the internet has led to the creation of a number of messaging apps, vying to be established as the default app for communication. Each of these apps adds, of course, its own special touch, but we can’t really expect a simple user to have an account on each one (since each of their friends may be using a different one) and here’s where I argue that ultimately we only need one application. Which? Facebook, and, to be exact, Facebook’s Messenger.
Let’s take a look at the competition. There are some applications we all know (Skype, Whatsapp, Viber), some unknown to us in the West, such as WeChat, which is huge in Asia and countless yet similar messaging apps in the app stores (Telegram, Threema, Line, Kakao Talk and thousands of others) as well as the little mess that Google has created with the 3(!)different applications that come preinstalled with Android: Allo for messaging, Duo for video calling, and Hangouts that does both, but it’s an older app, and rumors say it’s slowly transforming into an enterprise app. Finally, talking about preinstalled applications, we can not omit the excellent iMessage for iOS devices, an application that has, on its own, kept a great number of people “hostage” on iPhones. So what makes Facebook Messenger stand out so much that I claim to be the one and only messaging application you’ll need?
All your friends have it
Hand to heart, how many of your friends have Whatsapp but not Facebook? My answer would be just one. Facebook is known to have more than two billion users and I’m sure that over 80% of your acquaintances have an account. Even if they are not on Facebook, you only need a name and a phone for it to work, enabling it to be used even for people who do not have an account. So install it on their phones asap!
It is ubiquitous
Unlike many of the above mentioned apps, Facebook chat can be used by pretty much any device. Smartphones? Of course, with apps on all three major platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone). Computers? Absolutely, and you don’t even have to have your phone online, like Whatsapp Web requires. Older “dumb”phones? Yes, if they can get on the internet. TVs, game consoles, cars, watches, refrigerators? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! Anything that can access the internet definitely has a Facebook app so it’s always accessible and you never have to miss a message because your phone has run out of battery. Or, if you see it another way, you no longer have the slightest excuse to not see a Facebook message, but that’s a story for another time.
It has everything you need (and many features you do not need)
Facebook’s biggest fear is fear of missing out. If it does not follow every technological “fashion”, then millennials may think of it as uncool and soon it stops being part of their everyday lives. So how does Mark Zuckerberg face such a possibility? Simply copying (or buying) whatever made his opponents stand out. We have already mentioned the ability to not have a Facebook account for signing up for Messenger, a feature that debuted in Whatsapp (which Facebook incidentally later bought, so I expect a merger of these two at some point). You can send images, videos, and audio messages. You can of course make voice or video calls. There are group chats and location sharing. End-to-end encryption between devices so no one can spy on your conversations? Of course. Self-destructive messages and Stories like Snapchat? Check. Stickers, emoji, gifs? Obviously. It has also added bots to its arsenal, and it has my favorite feature of all, Chat Heads which let you carry on a conversation without having to leave the application you are in, and leave me wondering why they aren’t used in any other messaging app. All these in a well designed and easy to use interface, by even the most technologically illiterate.
So how can you compete with such a package? This is basically what I’m claiming in this article: you can’t, at least as far as Europe is concerned. US competition from iMessage and Chinese by WeChat is fierce, but here, especially after the acquisition of Whatsapp, it is the undisputed king of messaging apps, as no other application can put it with its popularity, the abundance of features it offers, and the willingness and speed of adding ones that it doesn’t have yet.