Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Messenger has more than doubled its number of monthly active users from 300 million to 700 million. And in doing so, has become the second most used messaging app globally.
How did it manage this exponential growth? The answer lies with sister-app, WhatsApp, which leads the charts with 900 million users.
In order to fast track growth, Messenger replicated what Facebook-owned Whatsapp did so successfully – expand beyond the 1.5 billion-strong Facebook network. “We’ve enabled people who don’t have a Facebook account to get Messenger, using their phone number,” David Marcus, Head of Facebook Messenger, said in an interview to The Telegraph.
Facebook Looks Beyond Social Networking
Mark Zuckerberg has time and again acknowledged the importance of Messenger. “One of the fastest-growing and most important members of our family is Messenger. We think this service has the potential to connect hundreds of millions of new people…and to become a really important communication tool for the world,” he told during Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s F8 conference in March.
What makes Zuckerberg so bullish? Just look at the numbers. The big 5 – WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Viber, WeChat and Line – together account for over 3 billion users.
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Data from research firm eMarketer also point to their growing clout. Mobile messaging apps will be used by more than 1.4 billion people by the end of 2015, up a big 32% y-o-y. That’s close to 75% of all smart phone users. By 2018, that figure is likely to shoot up to 2 billion, or 80% of smart phone users.
“The only thing people do more than social networking is messaging,” Marcus said. “I always like to rewind to what people did before technology. Before the web era, we just had conversations.”
Facebook Means Business
Marcus has bigger plans for Messenger. The former PayPal president, who joined Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in 2014, wants to create a bridge between consumers and businesses. As part of this strategy, Facebook unveiled what it calls ‘Businesses on Messenger.’
Facebook is already testing the chat service with six U.S. businesses. Next step is to roll this out to a range of airlines and retailers. Dutch carrier KLM has also been trailing the service.
Marcus says Messenger can be a one point interface between consumers and brands. He reckons that with time, people are getting selective about apps. Why would someone clutter their phone with the app of a business they buy from once or twice a year? Instead, they can use Messenger to fill the void.
That makes sense at a time when user fatigue has led to app usage hitting a plateau. “It’s not that smart phone users have lost interest in apps. However, users need to be convinced about the value of the app.” Gartner research director, Brian Blau noted.