Rise Of The Messaging Apps – IM Wars And Other Buzz


The battle of the instant messaging applications continues


Just a decade ago, we used to associate instant messaging with SMS, MMS, email, chat apps, tweet, etc. These days, the IM fever has spiraled into a multi-billion enterprise, particularly in the IT industry. Mention messaging apps, we will most likely or probably associate them with WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Viber, etc. With so many IM players in the apps market today, the social media platform is constantly abuzz with activity in messages, communication and interactions. There is definitely no better time to be living in this generation, since Gen-Y’s are literally the pioneer of ground-breaking scientific advancements and cutting-edge mobile technologies. Foreseeing such dramatic changes and ‘turn-of-events’ within the social media universe has brought about an unprecedented quantum leap of sorts in human participation on the global scale like never witnessed before. Facebook being one of the major driving forces behind the on-going social media explosion, is undoubtedly one such organization which has committed itself and contributed immensely to a brave new cyber-world of instant messaging and internet communication. Such is the unprecedented power of social media, aided by unlimited human potential and financial resources in social computing.

With Facebook’s acquisition of the iconic WhatsApp, mobile messaging apps have taken the mobile computing world by storm, and it is all thanks to the sheer force or might of their ever-expanding user databases. The following are some of the major messaging apps whose impact and influence are racking up millions of users all across the globe. With over 450 million monthly users as of 2014, it is quite clear or obvious why this US-based messaging giant has been the talk of town. Now under the sole ownership of Facebook Inc., WhatsApp is still available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Symbian. Meanwhile, one of China’s biggest internet service providers, Tencent, has the chat-friendly WeChat which has amassed some 272 million monthly followers since its inception in 2010 till 2014. With an array of cute & cuddly ‘cartoonish’ emoticons, Line messaging app boasts some 350 million registered users since 2014 and climbing steadily. Principally-owned by Naver Corporation, it is Japan’s creative offering to the IM app world. Viber on the other hand is an Israeli-based internet app company start-up based in Cyprus which has a total of 272 million subscribers – it was subsequently bought over by a household Japanese internet service provider Rakuten for a bargain sum amounting to a cool USD900 million only!

It is truly an overwhelming prospect for IM users nowadays when faced with so many different apps to select from – they are basically spoilt for choice! It is also Catch-22 situation or dilemma, whereby messaging app overload is increasingly becoming fact or reality with the passage of time. Smartphone manufacturers are also facing the heat of the moment, as well as the brunt of the burden, from the brouhaha surrounding the IM hype. Distractions and disruptions are aplenty and are never in short supply. Irony has somehow turned revelation! Market forces ultimately will decide the eventual winner in the finale or the “battle royale”.

The opportunity for consumers to send free messages is a rather attractive and lucrative prospect that is impossible to deny or decline. However, there will come a time when the proliferation of apps will begin to saturate the market, and somehow pose a burden instead of a luxury to users. Mark Zuckerberg’s gargantuan USD19 billion “internet gamble” to buy out WhatsApp is seen as a brilliant foresight on his part, prophesizing during the process that the messaging giant would proceed to dominate the market with its near-monopoly among IM users, enthusiasts and fanatics alike. Another landmark development involves a colossal acquisition revolving around tech titan Google taking control of video-sharing portal YouTube and made it a mammoth force to be reckoned with. The ubiquitous image-sharing application Instagram had also skyrocketed in fame and popularity after Facebook paid a whopping USD1 billion for its services in 2012.

Nevertheless, many believe that it is still way too early to ascertain which messaging apps will eventually triumph or survive the war in instant messaging. The one that provides the better services will obviously reap the rewards. Millions of new web users come online annually for the very first time on their respective mobile devices, so it should not come as a shock or a surprise to many if they do actually bypass conventional social networks such as email, SMS or even Twitter. Whilst consumers at home and abroad are clearly overwhelmed by the mind-boggling options available to them for messaging, it is also apparent that smartphone users are also wary or reluctant about which IM application they would choose to connect with friends and family. Increasingly stiff and fierce competition from rival apps continues to pose real challenges as well as present substantial threats to existing market leaders of IM apps. The prospect for revolutionary changes in the world of social media is indeed limitless. One thing is absolutely certain, messaging apps will continue to dominate over other forms of communication tools and media, more so with their popularity soaring further in the foreseeable future and beyond. Lastly, happy instant messaging to all! – HFM