Messaging as a Service: Bridging the Gap Between your Online and Offline Life

The smartphone experience is outgrowing apps. In fact, it’s outgrowing smartphones.

Article co-written by Matt Hall and Justin Clegg

This is what consumers look like in 2017:

Photo by Justin Clegg in San Francisco, California

The challenge is connecting our online and offline selves outside of the app ecosystem. Sure, we’re now seeing better app integration throughout the smartphone OS. But ultimately, many experiences don’t extend from the screen to real life.

We’ve seen a few attempts at bridging the online and offline gap — wearables, for one — and few have seemed to stick. (The jury is still out on voice).

We think this is because many of those attempts are trying to build additional ecosystems rather than taking advantage of existing ways to interact.

So what’s the next step to improve technology usage? Is it to integrate apps throughout the OS, making them more complicated for developers and users alike? What about when we move from smartphones to the next hardware platform (which may or may not be wearables)?

Or, is tech’s next step sidestepping the app ecosystem entirely, delivering experiences in a way we’re already accustomed to using?

(Spoiler alert: we think it’s this in the form of messaging.)

Why Messaging is the Next Evolution of Tech

Here are some stats:

We believe the next evolution of our digital lives isn’t a new platform, but a better way to weave tech throughout our lives. Consider this: every cell phone supports messaging. Even wearables like smartwatches allow messaging.

By focusing on a messaging-based technology experience, we’re enhancing our users’ lives without adding unnecessary barriers to adoption.

Thanks to better cloud-based computing, the tech already exists for this next step. Intelligent chatbots can deliver useful help through messaging and texting. Plus, the interface for this tech is built into every phone — from the latest premium smartphone to that brick phone your dad still uses. This is especially important to reach communities without access to expensive new tech.

We think The Hustle said it well:

Heck, the most-discussed phone at last week’s Mobile World Congress was this “revived” Nokia model that looks like the phone my sister got for Christmas in 2000 — right alongside her Razor scooter and Savage Garden CD.

(As RCS begins to roll out, the quality of messaging is going to improve, too.)

Using messaging as a UI is much more intuitive than learning a new app. Almost all of us use messaging and are familiar with how it works — no explanation needed, no password needed.

Sure, there will be some prompts for specific language in chat (such as asking for yes/no answers). But it’s still more intuitive and consistent than the broad ecosystem of apps we’re currently using.

Finally, intelligent messaging scales to a virtually unlimited number of users. If we need more computing, we simply expand through cloud solutions. (Just look at how messaging will add 1.1 Billion new users by 2018 thanks to Whatsapp and others.)

Why a startup lab is perfect to explore this new tech

We want to explore building things people want. By choosing the startup lab model, rather than waiting for funding or someone else to pick us, we’re able to achieve this. We can quickly develop MVPs, giving users more options and value while keeping costs at a minimum.

Through this model, we can focus on new user experiences, constantly filtering ideas until we find the ones that are practical. We can choose which feature implementation we pursue with the revolutionary, long-term growth we believe this startup structure enables. We’re challenging the organizational design of the traditional startup model, and for good reason:

This is not about new technology. It’s about taking existing technology and creating new experiences with it. With the freedom and flexibility of a startup lab, we can achieve this.

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the use cases we’re working on

  • A smart digital assistant like Siri or OK Google, but through messaging (and thus compatible with every device!). Through unified API integrations, our digital assistant has the potential to learn billions of facts and answers, ultimately replacing the need for a Google search.
  • A powerful food recommendation expert. This includes grocery, food, dietary and recipe recommendations and access to local restaurant deals. Why browse Yelp when you can send a quick message and get an even quicker recommendation you love?
  • Language learning: providing access to language experts and real time translation
  • Car help such as asking car questions, renewing your DMV registration, understanding what kind of oil your vehicle uses and more right through SMS
  • The ability to control your smart home through messaging
  • Your own AI personal trainer sending support and motivation through text

And many more.

We’re thrilled to see how we can use messaging as a platform to converge our online and offline lives.

Join us on our journey.

You can sign up for our waitlist and get a sneak preview of our messaging platform right now by visiting our website. Just enter a phone number and see the future for yourself. (Just remember — it’s still a work in progress!)

And if this is the kind of work you’d like to support as an engineer, investor, or enthusiast, drop us a line. We’re always looking to connect with great people.

Square One Labs is a startup studio powering and automating better messaging experiences. We’re building technology messaging services that help you bridge the gap between your online and offline life.

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