The #Messaging Platform Wars— the heat is on (update Oct.2016)

Messaging apps like FB Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram or Wechat are one of the most popular mobile apps for consumers. With more monthly active users on messaging apps than on social media apps, messaging is poised to become the new ground for building platforms and ecosystems. Today Telegram, Whatsapp, Messenger, Line, Kik and Wechat are adding new features to their messaging apps to enable conversational commerce (#convcomm) or (e)commerce via messaging apps.

source: Techcrunch

What do you need to know on these Messaging Platform Wars? What are the (future) opportunities for your business?

Let’s start this series on the Messaging Platform Wars with a simple summary of the most important events in 2015–2016.

This post was started in Sept. 2016 and updated in Oct. 2016 with the latest events in the messaging space by Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Amazon.

Twitter

Twitter removed the 140 characters limit for DM’s (Direct Messages) late 2015

On Twitter you can invite a consumer to start a private conversation (no follow required)

Twitter recently launched a new website button to let you accept private messages from your website

Twitter wants to become more a of a messaging app by launching new features like typing indicators and web link previews

Facebook

How Facebook Messenger clawed its’ way to 1 billion users (spoiler: using a forced download of Messenger)

User growth for Facebook Messenger

in 2015, Facebook envisioned Messenger to become the platform where businesses and consumers interact for customer service and commerce

The Messenger Platform was launched in April 16 with Mark Zuckerberg stating “I’ve never met anyone who likes calling a business”

Send to Messenger plugin

Chat bots for your business can be added on Facebook Messenger since April 16

Facebook added Payments (beta) to Messenger in Sept 16

Webbrowsing allows you to browse websites within Messenger

Advertising in Facebook can now also drive traffic to your bot on Messenger , handling the lead for your business (using AI)

In general, the development of the Messenger platform seems to be speeding up, potentially using the insights from Wechat in Asia

Facebook launched a stripped down app called Messenger Lite as part of the strategy to onboard the next 5 billion users on Facebook Messenger. It remains unclear how Facebook Messenger, Facebook Messenger Lite and Whatsapp will co-exist in the future.

Apple

Their messaging app iMessage has over 1 billion users, competing with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp

Apple launched the iMessage App Store to use apps within iMessage

iMessage handles in-app payments and you can now send a payment to anyone in the world via iMessage

Apple has proven to be good at building ecosystems and they might strike again with their iMessage strategy and existing user base

In the meantime, Apple gets slashed on the poor capabilities of Siri, one of the first virtual assistant for the masses

Whatsapp

Facebook bought Whatsapp in 2014 for their phenomenal user growth

Whatsapp dropped their user subscription fee to replace it with a future service model for businesses

Whatsapp recently started a privacy policy update to share data with Facebook and to to test ways for people to communicate with businesses

In Sept. 16 the integration of business features was confirmed but up until today businesses can not yet officially connect to Whatsapp

Germany orders Facebook to stop collecting Whatsapp phone numbers and user data

Telegram, Wechat, KIK , MS …. and Linkedin

What Facebook learned from Wechat, the popular messaging app in Asia

How Kik predicted the rise of chat bots early and opened their bot shop in 16 to improve the discovery process for bots

Being one of the early birds with a bot platform, messaging app Telegram launched a new version of their bot platform

Messaging app Telegram adds games to challenge Facebook

Line joins the chatbot phenomenon by opening up to brands and developers

Instagram rolled out a “Contact” button for brands on their platform as part of their messaging services for businesses and brands

The B2B networking platform Linkedin sees messaging and bots as the next frontier for networking in business-to-business

Microsoft’s bot platform claims to have 45,000 developers — more than Facebook’s, less than Google’s

Microsoft also claims its speech recognition is now on par with humans for the first time

Google

Reentering the messaging wars and conversational commerce, Google launched 2 new messaging apps for consumers: Google Allo and Google Duo.

Google acquires startup Api.ai “ to continue building great natural language interfaces”, challenging both Facebook and Microsoft

Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and IBM launch Partnership on AI to advance understanding and best practices

After Google Allo and Duo, Google also launched Google Assistant, your personal virtual assistant (at home and beyond)

This new Google assistent seems to be more ambitious than Siri (Apple) and Alexa (Amazon)

Google launched “Click-to-Message” ads to start a conversation directly from your ads on Google Adwords (SMS only)

Actions on Google opens up Google Assistant to third-party developers

Amazon

Amazon betted early on voice as their interface for conversational commerce with products like Echo and Alexa . Bonus: you can test it in your browser here.

Amazon acquired Angel.ai, a company that develops technology for natural language search in commerce

Amazon’s $2.5M ‘Alexa Prize’ seeks a chatbot that can converse intelligently for 20 minutes

Interesting facts on #messaging and … monetization

66% of consumers want to use messaging to interact with businesses (Twilio study)

In Sept 2016 over 30.000 Facebook bots are active on the Messenger platform (TechCrunch)

Messaging apps have over 4 billion monthly active users

87% of private messages via business pages on Facebook remained unanswered (2015)

1 billion messages are sent every month on Facebook Messenger

A study undertaken with 59 airlines worldwide showed that 32% of airlines didn’t answer within 1 week to consumer messages on Facebook Messenger

According to Bloomberg, the bot economy is growing even faster than the app economy did (apps are so 2015?)

“The challenge facing Mr. Zhang and Tencent now is how to maintain growth, preserve WeChat’s startup-like culture to spur continued innovation and, crucially, earn more money from the flagship mobile product

One third of (UK) smartphone users never make calls

How the 1–800 Flowers Facebook bot is working out: over 70 percent of the company’s chatbot orders have been from new customers

The messaging platform wars have only just begun. With the massive amount of active users on messaging apps, there is a lot at stake for all parties involved. All messaging platforms are actively executing their strategy to create a new platform for (e)commerce and for monetization of their user base.

At the same time customer service and commerce via messaging apps creates a unique opportunity to simplify how businesses and consumers interact. Messaging is simple, personal and on-the-go. Consumers have onboarded this new platform, but for most companies the step to messaging and conversational commerce still has to be undertaken.

Follow us on Medium for more Messaging Wars updates. Did we miss some key events in the Messaging Wars in 2015-2016? Send us a message on Messenger.

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