Why Facebook Messenger could be the one to rule them all
The history of Facebook Messenger for your mobile phone is well known. The backlash against it began in April 2014 when Facebook announced it was separating messenger from the main Facebook mobile app. The negative reviews of the new Facebook Messenger app in the iTunes app store have been the same ever since. No one wants it separated and people are very vocal about it. I have friends who refuse to download it for the simple fact that they don’t understand why they couldn't have kept it in the main app. The anger this generates borders on the almost comical.
Yet, many people still use Facebook Messenger everyday to communicate between their friends. For many people they don’t want to share their phone number for texting or they just never bothered too. For others, that friend they chat with lives in another country and Facebook Messenger is the fastest free way to communicate. Either way, people are using Facebook Messenger even if they refuse to download the mobile version of it. For those lonely holdouts, Facebook shouldn't be worried. While the negativity that surrounds the separate Messenger mobile app is strong, it is consistently the number 1 or number 2 free app downloaded in the iTunes app store.
So why do I think it will be big? Well everyone I know has Facebook and I mean everyone. Grandparents, parents, kids, businesses, brands, and celebrities; everyone is on Facebook. Here is what everyone is NOT on. They’re not on twitter, they’re not on Whatsapp, they’re not on Snapchat. Twitter is for the hyper connected FOMO news junkies who want to talk about what’s happening now. Whatsapp seems to be for everyone outside of the US who doesn't want to pay for texting on their phone. Snapchat is for teenage and college kids who love sharing video and pictures quickly with a small group of friends. Everyone of my friends and family falls into different categories using these apps. The one app that doesn't need a category of people is Facebook. It’s the umbrella we all gather under.
So if everyone can use it, why would they? In the last few years messaging apps have exploded and the popularity only continues to grow. WeChat, Line, KakaoTalk are all very popular messaging apps in Asia and they all do more than just message. You can send GIFs, play games, send money, place voice and video calls, and purchase things in those apps. The mobile messaging platform in the US is very fragmented. Texting will always be around but it’s slow and almost boring. iMessage is very big because of the high iPhone penetration in the US market. Yet iMessage is very flawed. It only works on an iPhone and even then it doesn't always work. Group iMessages are sometimes a pain and still to this day become divided and hard to follow, some messages never deliver, and it is just a very buggy service that Apple doesn't seem to devote anytime to.
Facebook Messenger is growing in services and features. You can attach GIFs and stickers, you can now place video calls, soon you will be able to talk to brands and services with it. The groups feature is very nice and easy to use. Most of all it is fast and reliable. I have tested it many times vs iMessage and it’s the one true Messenger that reminds me of the AIM days in the 90's. It’s instant and it works. The UI is very well designed and the graphics and sounds are neat and clean. It’s available on every mobile platform including having it’s own web client. As more and more people discover it’s advantages and uses, it has a serious chance to be the messenger to rule them all, at least in the US market. I have many friends on Facebook who I don’t know their number or even their email, yet I can message them instantly on Messenger.
As more and more of our lives are lived out online and especially on Facebook, finding people is almost easier than ever before. Facebook Messenger could be the 21st century phone book where conversations, phone calls, and even video calls take place. The potential is there and Facebook along with the tech industry is starting to notice. Facebook is positioning Messenger to be the one service we all will use even if some of you have to dragged kicking and screaming.