February 27, 2014
Shortly after Facebook acquired WhatsApp they made an announcement that barely registered on my radar. The announcement was that they were going to discontinue @facebook.com e-mail service. There wasn’t much of an uproar simply put because few saw the value of an address integrated with Facebook messenger and far fewer utilized the service.
It got me thinking though of how Facebook could leverage WhatsApp into something far bigger and more useful than it already is. For many of us who follow tech trends we know that SMS is slowly going the way of the buffalo. People are beginning to see the value a WhatsApp, a Viber or a BBM bring to the table in the way of secure messaging, speed of data transfer and inexpensive Voip capabilities. So what’s the next frontier in the Messaging War?
For me it’s this. It’s one thing to have cross device functionality. I myself can utilize WhatsApp and BBM on my iPhone or my BlackBerry P’9982 but where their would be real value is in computer to computer communication. Take Apple’s iMessage product for instance. I love iMessage. The ability to continue a “text” conversation while I am on a plane (utilizing WiFi) or take it to my laptop (without having to reach for my phone) make for a seamless and efficient way to communicate. In the workplace I found that I could reduce my dependency on e-mail if my co-workers had iMessage and/or MAC desktops and laptops. But naturally iMessage isn’t so much an app is it is a benefit native to Apple’s iOS. So now that I am back to BlackBerry as my main device or if I am working on my Dell desktop in the office – iMessage is of no use to me.
What Facebook could do is take WhatsApp from being available across mobile devices to a platform available across ALL devices. If you could continue “text based” conversations across say your Mobile Device, a Tablet and ultimately into a desktop/laptop environment I think the average utilization would Sky Rocket per user. You also now conceivably have an Enterprise product to launch into the business sector as well.
But what if someone beat WhatsApp to this space? Would it be a game changer? Conceivably BlackBerry’s BBM and Enterprise services are close to offering this EXACT ability to businesses. What if they were able to bring this technology to the everyday consumer experience before WhatsApp? I think you might see a huge SHIFT in momentum. Like I said before I am a fan of anything that reduces E-mail dependency and brings efficient, low cost and quick data/text communication across multiple platforms. In today’s world I’m constantly rotating between by mobile device, tablet, desktop and laptop depending on my work environment and what type of activity I am conducting. It will be interesting to see who in this space arrives first.