Last week, reports surfaced online claiming that Facebook was planning on evolving its Messenger into a platform. Last night at its F8 conference, the social giant opened up its chat app to third-party developers thereby letting them integrate their apps into the service. Also Read - WhatsApp announces rollout of end-to-end encrypted backups for Android, iOSAlso Read - Facebook launches Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses alongside new Facebook View app
So for example if you want to send a GIF to your friend, you can simply install the Giphy app, find the GIFs you want to send it without having to leave Messenger. If a friend sends you an image or video from one of these third-party apps and you don’t already have them installed, you’ll see an install link on them so you can download them right then and there. Also Read - WhatsApp multi-device for iPad users in the works, release expected soon
Facebook claims that nearly 40 apps have already been integrated from partners including ESPN, JibJab, Talking Tom, Bitmoji, ClipDis and Giphy among others. Facebook is also releasing its own set of apps for Messenger that includes Stickered, Selfied, and Shout. The company has started rolling out these app integrations via an update.
Additionally, Facebook also previewed Businesses on Messenger, which focuses on making it easier for users to interact with businesses. So in essence users will receive order confirmations, shipping updates, and even provide customer support via the app itself.
Facebook split Messenger from its native app last year, and the reason mentioned was that it would be easier to introduce new features on a separate platform. A few months down the line the reasons behind the split are clear. It has recently been rolling out various new features on Messenger that includes sending stickers, sharing videos, making phone calls, and more recently sending money to friends as well. The idea is that users, particularly young users, are looking for more features than simple messaging from these apps.
Facebook is clearly working towards making Messenger a Western version of popular chat platforms like Line and WeChat among others. The latter have created massive platforms that boast gaming, and m-commerce over the chat app. These apps have also connected companies/brands to their customers, and it s easy to see that Facebook is borrowing features from the same playbook.
Facebook s Messenger has more than 600 million monthly active users. It crossed the 500 million mark in November last year, so in essence it has garnered 100 million users in just four months. It is also fast catching up with the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which had passed the 700 million users mark earlier this year.
To put Messenger s userbase into perspective, at last count WeChat had crossed 468 million users, Instagram had over 300 million users, Viber had over 236 million users, and Line had over 181 million users. However most of these services do not reveal the number of monthly active users, and instead reveal the number of registered users.