Similar Web released a study that reveals the most popular global messaging apps in the last couple of years. The study, as analyzed by express.co.uk, clearly captures the way Facebook Messenger superseded WhatsApp in 2017, compared to 2016. Granted, the current version of Messenger launched in April 2015. It went from 600 million users initially, to 9 00 million in June 2016, 1 billion in July 2016, and 1.2 billion in April 2017.
Just as a list, here you may see the Top Google Play apps in the Communication section, as listed by the same SimilarWeb. The top two positions are similar to the study quoted by the UK publication.
What is the dangerous part in Messenger’s success?
Going back to 2016, we may well remember how Facebook forced its users to download the Messenger app, separating Messenger from their network. The move qualified as “hostile” at the time – and the users were annoyed.
However, we are now looking at an app that beat the install-at-your-free-will WhatsApp – and what does this tell us? That a forceful move is ignor-able, if time and numbers vouch for a successful outcome.
The company, or any other company could replay the same technique in theory. The results d not seem to penalize the practice in any way.
What would the practice be described as? Well, splitting one product that has been validated by the market and ensuring a similar success of the secondary project – in a move that removes the users from the control board.
The peoples’ network – the capital of any communication app
The above example was possible due to the fact that Facebook made sure they have a most valuable capital, before making their move. The people that formed their social network already established connections and cared about them. Letting go was unlikely. Facebook capitalized on this reality, which is a customary practice with this brand.
Of course, taking into account that each move that the users dislike brings about a lot of comments about how Facebook does not consider the users’ wishes, the levels of discontent seem to raise. Somewhere along the line there should be a tipping point. Some wonder, others plainly hope for this to materialize – because this approach is, in fact, offensive.
Its value of precedent makes the entire issue even more important. Facebook has plans for free, ubiquitous Internet. Facebook – the social network, has the tagline “It’s free and always will be”. This is an important factor that attracted the huge numbers of users. The users that are now capital for one very important brand. The users that now have to ignore their pride and options at each questionable change made by the network. Because it’s free and because they still want to keep in touch with their peers.
Take this hidden price and shift it at the Internet’s level…
…and you get an arguable lack of freedom of choice. Just how much are you willing to give up because you want to be in the loop? Just how much is it worth giving up in exchange for freebies?
The big lurking issue beneath the free Internet is lack of net neutrality. You surely know the debate – fast and slow lane Internet, selected information, the bigger player gets to decide what goes on where.
The problem with this kind of fight is that it never happened. Without the influencers explaining the importance of keeping your freedom of choice, the general noise covered the incident. What never happened remains just a memory, if that. The mechanism was tested and it worked in favor of Facebook.
This proves the point that the leading-edge tech companies have the authority, build upon years of customer relationships and upon free features that dazzle the public, of imposing their point of view over the better reason or over the preferences of their audience.
Is this an idea we are comfortable with?
Unsettling future perspectives
Some acknowledge that we are not there yet, but we might be heading straight into a society of uniformity. Uniformity would not exclude variety – just think of how automation segments users into categories. You wisely keep categories, yet you feed the same message to one and all – to each in its personalized, suitable manner.
Such an image surely describes a simplified way of getting things through, but it definitely does not describe modern, educated communication. Communication as we’ve grown to understand it, means getting things back and forth, perhaps disagreeing, confronting opposite ideas. The winner is not pre-decided in real communication. If it would be, then why bother with just the show?
Or are we there yet, and we just expect the show? Perhaps Facebook just put the Messenger move too bluntly, while other brands still go through the slow-dance steps of announcing, testing, taking feedback into consideration – and finally going through with the initial decision, regardless of what users want. This way, they have something to show in the line of “at least making an effort”.