So that’s what Messenger is for – ever since Facebook decided access to their messaging app would be through a separate app to their main site, speculation has been rife as to what Zuckerberg, Sandberg and the crew at Menlo Park were up to.
Well it seems that since they couldn’t get a successful Facebook centric smartphone off the ground (although not for want of trying) the company has decided that Messenger has the power to obliterate the smartphone as we know it – starting with the mobile phone number – and rebuild the operating system in its own image.
800m people use FB Messenger every month which is a pretty good start. And the features keep on coming – there are few things now that you can do with your smartphone that you can’t also do within the Facebook app. Video calling? Check. Send money to friends? Check. Book an Uber. Check. Play with emojis, colours, and nicknames? Check. Check. Check. There’s even a personalised assistant, M. It’s a little bit like the Digital Butler Zuckerberg says he wants to build for himself in 2016. Co-incidence?
But these are all mere baubles when compared to the developments and new features slated to appear in 2016, chief amongst them the disappearance of the mobile phone number.
“Just like the flip phone is disappearing, old communication styles are disappearing too, says Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products David Marcus in a New year blog post. “With Messenger, we offer all the things that made texting so popular, but also so much more.” It’s true – you can voice or video call without ever having to ask someone’s number. Heck, you don’t even need a Facebook account to use Messenger. And its cross platform – pick up on your tablet where you left off on your PC – then transfer to your smartphone – or should we say smart device – the phone part seems kind of superfluous now.
So what’s the catch? Advertisers. However they dress it up, “We’re seeing a paradigm shift in how people engage”, or “AI capabilities are bringing unparalleled convenience to simple, every day tasks”, Facebook are going to allow businesses to bombard you with advertising.
Facebook have already begun to issue SDKs to developers so that businesses can communicate with us almost with impunity, eavesdropping on our conversations and making recommendations. “Thinking of going on holiday sir, I think we have just the thing. Suit you sir, oh yes!”
The frustrating part about Marcus’ blog posts is how he makes it sound like Facebook is doing us a favour, when really they are showing more loyalty and paying much more care and attention to their advertisers. Hey ho, that’s normal, and we get it – they need to make money to survive and continue to offer us the many great and helpful services they provide. Our “social handshake”, no less.
But “It’s all about delight”, we “want to empower you to put a smile on the faces of those people who matter the most in your life.” Please. Will all of our friends be sponsored by Nike, or come to us “thanks to the power of Cisco”?
But listen, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Because at the end of the day, the players gonna play, play, play, play, and the haters gon’ hate, hate, hate, hate – you just gotta shake it off. Right?