Do you still call people on the phone? The actual phone part of your phone. As in you have dialed numbers and heard their voice but did not see their face. Why do we even call them phones anymore? The phone part is really just an app on your mobile device, isn’t it?
Nowadays there is an extraordinary number of options for how you can communicate with someone through your mobile device. New entrants continue to pour into this market while legacy ones continue to innovate and copy features from the new guys. Some like Telegram focus on security while others such as Houseparty specialize in live group video chat. I jotted down a list of messaging apps off the top of my head. I didn’t include Twitter or Instagram as I don’t feel they quite fit with this group:
- Facebook’s Messenger
- Google Hangout
- Marco Polo
- Houseparty (Fun Fact - this app was made by the creators of Meerkat)
Not only is this a lot, it just scratches the surface of all the options out there.
My friends and I Facetime because we all have iPhones and it comes preloaded. Solid advantage for Apple right there. Why download these new apps if your family and friends aren’t there? I only have about 25% of the above apps on my phone- errr I mean mobile device, and already I feel I have too many. I’m no Lord of the Rings fan but wouldn’t it be nice if there was one communication app to rule them all?
This is why app extensions are starting to appeal to developers and publishers. For example, Fam launches out of iMessage, where your Apple-using friends already are. Imagine you are texting with a friend and you both decide to make it a live video chat. Instead of going to your home screen, finding another app, loading said app, and connecting to your friend through there, you just click a button within iMessage to make all this happen.
Cool, so what is next for this industry? Consolidation by acquisition? Maybe but there’s a strong chance at that not happening. WhatsApp recently introduced end to end encryption. Facebook’s Messenger recently introduced group video chats. The big players will continue to shamelessly copy newer entrants’ features leaving them in the dust. Why acquire when you can build it yourself?
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