The biggest social network in the world changed how 1.4 billion people share their major life events, baby photos and even goofy videos of their pets with friends. Now, Facebook is interested in changing the way they have one-on-one conversations as well. Just as Facebook evolved from being just a social network into a huge platform for group conversations and games, the company plans to make its instant messaging service into a similar structure promoting communications of all types. Currently, there are 600 million users of Facebook Messenger. At its annual app developers conference held on Wednesday, the company told app makers that it was giving them access to its Messenger app, allowing them to piggyback their apps along with Facebook chats.
About 50 apps were shown by the social networking giant, which were created for this program. This included one app that could turn the text messages into songs whereas another app enabled users to express their mood by searching for and then sending an animated GIF. The chief executive and co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said that up until now, the company has made these features itself for improving the Messenger, but now they wanted to tap the creativity of other app developers due to which the platform was being opened.
He added that they were quite excited about the simple and fast tools they would roll out. However, this isn’t where the firm’s messaging ambitions come to a halt. Last week, a payment button was added to Messenger, which enabled people to send money instantly to their friends. It is expected by most analysts that the service would be expanded to allow users to make purchases from businesses too. At the developers conference, the company said that a new system will be tested soon, which could be used by businesses for providing a personalized service to their customers after purchases are made.
Everlane and Zulily are the initial partners of Facebook in this venture, but it is also interested in luring other types of businesses such as cable companies and airlines, which encounter customer service issues regularly. Head of Facebook’s messaging products, David Marcus said that they are focusing on re-introducing the conversational nature of commerce by improving interactions between customers and businesses. Facebook is coming to resemble Line and WeChat in several respects. A range of services are offered by these two Asian messaging platforms, which include the ability of ordering takeout or calling a cab and expressing moods with virtual stickers.
In contrast, the big US-based players in Messaging, which include Microsoft with Skype, Google with Hangouts, Apple with its iMessage and Facebook with its Messenger have made little effort to move beyond promoting video conversations. An expert said that no business model could be made around these services as they are mostly free. Facebook Messenger could evolve and become a useful tool for businesses, but in order to accomplish this goal, the social network has to lure developers into integrating their applications with its messaging service.