I am in Paris for some meetings coming off of Havas' all managers meeting (AMM) in Barcelona, where we met with Zaryn Dentzel, the founder of Tuenti. Tuenti is Spain's leading social networking community (a la Facebook), which just got sold for a hefty chunk of change.
We got to hear Dentzel talk about his vision, goals, and differentiation from Facebook. He also told the group that he thinks messengers, like BlackBerry's BBM, will be the next major arms race in the colliding worlds of mobile and social media.
Now here in Paris, I again find myself talking about messengers. Almost simultaneously, Apple announces that iOS5 will contain an Apple version of BBM. So this got me thinking and curious, because messengers have now come up three times in one week -- and previously I have not wasted two words discussing them in a work context..
Hard numbers seem hard to come by, but messaging services seem to on an amazing growth track. BMM, WhatsApp and Kik all seem to be doing quite well. Quite impressive really, and it is understandable. Why pay international rates for SMS and MMS? I use WhatsApp regularly when I travel so I can stay in touch with my wife and not pay massive SMS fees. One limitation and missing piece, though, is a messenger that will allow me the ability to message friends and coworkers using other services. Right now I have to pick my messenger and then push as many people to it as possible.
Another interesting insight is in the different and diverging growth paths. Services like WhatsApp and Kik exist across devices from Apple and Android to BlackBerry. BlackBerry, on the other hand has grown BBM by lowering the cost of its phones and getting them into the hands of a new and younger generation of users outside of its core market of business. This has the added benefit of, in turn, helping RIM sell more phones. Now in rides Apple with a new OS, a newly priced 3G, a white 4G, the iPad2, and the iCloud. A messenger service across all this is pretty impressive. I'm sure Android will also be following suit here. So this does seem to be turning into quite the arms race.
So what does all this mean? Not sure, really. There doesn't seem to be much of an ad platform here, but it likely has some pretty massive implications for users and the companies looking to keep them within their walled garden and on their devices. If this turns out to be as big as Dentzel and others are betting, then this may change how and why consumers pick their devices, and which service providers they choose to support them. This would also likely come with yet another paradigm shift in marketing. As always, dear readers, I'm quite curious what you think this means.