Facebook Wants 2016 to Be the Year Messenger Makes Apps Irrelevant
Facebook has plans for Messenger. Big plans. It hopes to use its messaging platform to make apps irrelevant. And apparently, a whole lot of you are on board for the ride.
Today, David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging products, penned a blog post noting a new milestone Messenger crossed at the end of 2015: 800 million monthly active users. That’s up from 700 million in June, 600 million in March, and 500 million in November 2014.
Those numbers make Messenger the fastest growing app in the US in 2015, according to research firm Nielsen. Meanwhile, App Annie data shows Messenger is now the second most popular iOS app of all time right behind Facebook itself. Its monthly user count lags just behind the 900 million using WhatsApp, another messaging app owned by Facebook that’s wildly popular overseas.
The widespread adoption of Messenger also means Facebook is gaining the traction it needs to make Messenger the go-to platform for everyday interactions among just about everyone. Unlike Apple or Google, Facebook doesn’t tout its own mobile operating system—which would seem to put the tech giant at a disadvantage. But Facebook has one clear edge: it’s already the place where a whole lot of people spend more of their time than in any other app. Messenger, meanwhile, performs many of the same functions as a mobile OS; as more Facebook users embrace it, the company can sneak past its competitors without ever having to create a real mobile OS of its own.
After all, Messenger isn’t just about trying to take the place of old-school SMS. You can use it to search and share gifs on Giphy; shop online; track packages and receipts; send money; and summon an Uber. If you’re a lucky beta user, you can even use it as a Siri-like virtual assistant. Messenger is moving in the direction of what many see as the holy grail of messaging apps, WeChat, which is widely used in China as a so-called Everything App.
In 2016, Facebook aims to supercharge this vision for Messenger. Marcus says the company hopes to make the phone number irrelevant in the coming year while turning message threads into the new apps. After all, if you can accomplish everything you want right inside Messenger, why would you ever leave Facebook? Which is precisely what Facebook wants.