How’s this for adoption rates? The Facebook Messenger app has already reached the 500 million user plateau and is only expecting further growth in 2015 after making exciting announcements regarding the app’s future.
Although Facebook initially sparked controversy when it decided to fully remove messaging capabilities from the main app, the company stands by its decision, saying, “Messenger was the first of our standalone apps, and unlike our core Facebook apps, it focused on one use case – messaging.”
Facebook came under fire a few months ago when they decided to force mobile users to also download the Messenger app if they wanted to continue their private conversations with friends. According to Facebook’s support page, Messages are moving out of the Facebook app and over to the Messenger app, so now we’ll be asking people to install Messenger and start sending messages from there instead.”
Tech journalists and experts, even the Wall Street Journal, voiced concern about Messenger privacy. Many people took issue with the Android version of the app, which gave Facebook blanket access to contact and hardware permissions. Facebook explained that they were following the structures set by Android’s own policies. According to the Messenger help documentation, the “directly call phone numbers” permission is necessary if you want to make a phone call to one of your Facebook contacts.
Messenger’s privacy and advertising policies led to significant press for Facebook alternatives, including Ello, a beta social media service that promotes itself as an “ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.” Ello seemed to create a few ripples online, with thousands of early adopters signing up for its beta service. At one point, Ello reached a whopping 38,000 signups per hour. This new social media company is poised to release its mobile apps sometime this year.
It seems that Facebook’s explanations of its services, accompanied by a recent public Q&A session hosted by Mark Zuckerberg, have helped assuage fears regarding Messenger adoption, as indicated by the recent 500 million active user benchmark. Admittedly, Facebook has been trying to increase user education about on privacy control and settings. For example, the company launched a Privacy Checkup tutorial, which is characterized with a blue dinosaur avatar. The tutorial walks you through your privacy controls, helping you understand who’s able to see your posts and your profile information. While the Privacy Checkup doesn’t explicitly address the Messenger app, it does help users gain better control over their profiles in general.
It doesn’t seem like Facebook will slow its focus on the messaging arena anytime soon. October 6, 2014, the social media behemoth closed a $19 billion deal with WhatsApp, one of the most popular cross-platform messaging systems on the ‘Net. The founder of the app will also serve on Facebook’s Board of Directors, according to reports by Geekwire.
Facebook’s vice president of messaging products David Marcus also recently announced that his team is beginning to test a voice-to-text feature for the app. This comes on the heels of Facebook’s acquisition of speech recognition company, Wit.ai, in early January. Those close to the development say the feature will be very similar to the way Google Voice Works.
So, what are the implications of an increased Messenger user base? As your contacts become more reliant on this form of communication, Facebook might see those stragglers begrudgingly adopt the app so that they can keep in touch. However, Facebook will still need to compete with other forms of direct communication provided by platforms like Twitter, SnapChat, and of course, traditional text messaging plans. And Facebook no longer has to worry about competing with WhatsApp, ever since the recent acquisition closed.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1118633121][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B0034G4P7Q]