The Messaging App Came of Age This Year…
No vertical seems untouched over the last year by messaging apps of different shapes, sizes and often contradictory descriptions.
Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable or notorious companies and their apps from 2014:
Why These Apps?
January Snapchat suffers a data breach which exposed user details in December of 2013 and finally apologized to its users in January of 2014. The company famous for disappearing messages no doubt wished the bad PR could disappear in much the same manner.
February Rakuten buys Viber for a cool $900 million. Since then the Israeli startup has radically revamped its Windows Phone app with a gorgeous UX and in the last few weeks announced that Viber will be pivoting from Skype competitor into also becoming a social gaming platform.
Facebook, not to be out done in acquisitions closed the deal to buy Whatsapp for an unbelievable $19 billion. Most commentators responses ranged around gobsmacked.
June Kickass Israeli startup Zula announced raising $3million in their series A round. The company has previously drawn the attention/investment of Microsoft Ventures and may just be fielding the A-Team of start-up talents with the likes of founders Jacob Ner-David and Jeff Pulver, CMO Hillel Fuld and a slew of others.
Zula hasn’t been resting on their laurels, with the Zula Messaging Summit in New York several weeks ago and rumors of a Windows Phone version in the works for their workplace collaborative / productivity app.
July Facebook closed the faucet for good on messaging from within Facebook itself. It was their separate Messenger app or nothing to the chagrin of many users. In addition, many questioned the need for a separate messaging app with the acquisition of Whatsapp. For now, it seems that Facebook is happy to have both apps and their user bases.
August Secret became a household app during 2014 (perhaps in response to the revelations of NSA spying, people wanted the ability to maintain anonymity) but in August CNN and others started to report on a security hole that allowed anyone to identify users with relative ease. Secret patched this but the combination of this flaw and the ease with which anonymity seemed to encourage darker behavior led to some users abandoning the app.
With Lync, Skype and Yammer all Microsoft properties in the messaging arena and Skype seeming to be part of the Office family yet neither integrated with Office, the web or One Drive this was welcome news.
December Snapchat exercised their rights by having all 3rd party apps built on Snapchat taken down from the Microsoft Store for Windows Phone. It is unclear if this signals interest on Snapchat’s part in launching their own Windows Phone app or if they are protecting users from the alleged security compromises these apps often incur. Either way, Windows Phone users are left hanging by a messaging app that seems incapable of communicating with potential users about its intent.
The Warptest POV
These are just the highlights of the year of the messaging app. There are no shortages of use cases, solutions or controversy (in some cases): –
- Some apps are designed to ensure the user’s anonymity.
- Some apps are social networks in their own right.
- Workplace productivity and collaboration.
- Extending the conversation to include the results of 3rd party plugins e.g. Slack, Atlassian’s Hipchat and Skype all allow integration with Jenkins or other Continuous Integration / Dev Ops tools. Slack has IFTTT and Hipchat has Zapier for interacting with / triggering actions from other web apps.
- Some apps guarantee your data will vanish after some time and others guarantee the safety and permanency of your data.
- Some apps are platform agnostic and support all desktop and mobile OS alike.
- Some apps seem hellbent on remaining exclusive to only Android or iOS.
One thing is for sure, the user has more choice than ever before and doesn’t have to search far to find the best app to suit their needs for personal and business use.
2014 certainly seems the year of the messaging app. What’s next for these apps and what innovations do you hope to see in 2015?