Communication Platforms in 2016
This is a fantastic piece 👍. A great overview of what niche products are used by different demographics.
It is very easy for non tech-savvy mainstream audiences (one we both are not a part of) to just think about the established names like Facebook and Snapchat as the only consumer communication tools. But, as you have mentioned, there are so many products used by specific demographics to suit their specific needs in a desirable interface/environment.
For external networks, I really think Slack has the greatest potential. Yes, it started out as a replacement of internal email system but people have come up with new use cases ranging from chat rooms in the form of public/private channels to basic communication tools in startup’s UX experiences (Common is a great example here).
You also mentioned that Quora for different professionals has room for growth. Here, again, Slack could dominate. Publications like The Information are engaging with the subscriber community via Slack.
Slack has turned into what Facebook messaging and groups were about two or three years ago. For every sort of communication channel, Slack has the greatest potential. It could be consumer, enterprise, private, public, external or internal. And this is fueled by the gravitation towards simple chat interfaces, less desirability of fancy UIs, playful design and amazing execution team of Slack.
I wouldn't be surprised if Slack figures out a better way to eliminate emails between organizations. So, imagine being able to just have Slack on the dock of your home screen and being able to participate in communications with your neighborhood, workplace, business partners and fitness club folks in just different channels.
I think we will be seeing more of one-app-multiple-use-cases mindset rather than multiple-app-differentiated-use-cases mindset.
It would be interesting to think about a scenario wherein mobile operating systems come up with a messaging protocol. Messaging could be a layer on top of the OSs. What would happen to all these external messaging clients in that case? That being said, I think this is highly unlikely considering how much Apple has sucked at building its iMessages product.
I got into an interesting conversation on Twitter about this yesterday —
I also think that Microsoft has missed out on the both the messaging train and live streaming trend. It was too focused on growing Skype at the time when messaging clients were popping up. And, later lost the live streaming game to Meerkat, Periscope, and now FB Live. You made an interesting point though. Microsoft has consumer properties (Skype, Outlook, Sunrise, Wunderlist, Swiftkey) and enterprise products (Outlook, Yammer) to come up with something. I can see them engineering a new kind of mobile-first productivity/communication kit with all these already established products.
Most of these big companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter have succeeded at buying out functional apps. It is very crucial to find those products right places in their ecosystems. Facebook has been so successful with Whatsapp & Instagram acquisitions but these products are still standalone properties. There is not much integration between them to unlock new levels of communication between individuals, groups and businesses. Similarly, Microsoft would have to figure out a strategy to leverage all these apps in a synchronized flow. History shows that they have not done so well at integrating everything to take communication systems to a new level. Some more thoughts about this theme here —
Yesterday, I read a TechCrunch article about Fandango acquiring Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes.medium.com
It’s also important to consider the blooming audio space. Most notable apps in audio are Anchor, Unmute and Roger.
Another interesting read —