2016 could be the year of Instant Messaging apps as the Facebook owned messaging service WhatsApp and Facebook’s own Messenger app are closing in on the ‘1 Billion users’ mark. David Marcus (ex-PayPal), who currently heads Facebook’s messaging product, revealed that Facebook Messenger has crossed more than 800 million users. Likewise, WhatsApp has also reportedly crossed the 900 million mark in September, last year, making it the top Messaging app in term of Monthly Active Users.
Facebook Messenger roughly garnered 100 million users in six months to 800 million users in December 2015; whereas, it took just three months (Mar ’15 to Jun ’15) to add the same number of users in the same year. One might wonder how the service roped in a consistent number of users every month. When Facebook decided to remove the messaging service from the main app, users turned reluctant, and many even decided that it could be a ‘terrible idea’.
The despised app saw a number of innovative additions in terms of features, over the last couple of months. Some highlights are detailed below:
- An update to control the colour of the chat bubbles and emojis, and the ability to add nicknames to friends in your list.
- A 3D touch addition for iPhone users: Sending messages right from the home screen with a light tap of the app.
- Order a Uber straight from the Messenger app: a User button allows users to hail a ride and track their driver’s progress from within Facebook’s Messenger app.
- Facebook M for users in the Bay Area: A ‘siri-like’ assistant built straight into the app that lets you do multiple ‘siri-like’ functions.
While recently news came that the company is testing a secret Chat SDK that allows developers to Build Messenger Bots—by combining both Facebook M and the Chat SDK we get something similar to ‘Jarvis’ from the Iron Man movie.
Facebook Messenger Is Gaining Popularity Across Platforms
In the U.S, Facebook Messenger stands third (97.4 million users) in terms of average unique users, according to Nielsen. While, AppAnie charts, specific to U.S, reveal that Facebook Messenger stands 1st in the overall rankings for Google Play and Windows Phone, while the messaging app ranked 2nd in the iOS platform.
Nevertheless, the manner in which Facebook has built the messaging service tells a peculiar tale: it seems to be embracing the chat-based era with the addition of Facebook M and the ‘siri-like’ both, as well as several additions like the ability to share GIFs, track packages, and even send money to you people in your friends’ list.
David Marcus says that Facebook is trying to make ‘phone numbers irrelevant’ by adding utility, and other helpful features.
“You don’t need to have a Facebook account to use Messenger anymore, and it’s also a cross platform experience – so you can pick up where you left off whether you’re on a desktop computer, a tablet, or your phone.”
He adds that Facebook is working on converting the generic Instant Messaging app into an enterprising assistant by helping users interact with businesses or services to buy items, order rides, purchase airline tickets, and even talking to customer service for immediate assistance.
With their messenger app going mainstream, Facebook has yet another opening in the IM space since its acquisition of WhatsApp; it is high time that Facebook should introduce changes to WhatsApp’s business model before they lose out the current rankings to other players like WeChat, Telegram, etc.