Commentary

Google Will Probably Join Rest Of Mobile Messaging Gang

Of course Google is building a fancy new mobile messaging product.

I mean, it’s still an unconfirmed report, but the tech giant would have to be blind not to see that messaging apps increasingly lie at the center of our digital lives.

The proof is everywhere you look. This past year, for example, Facebook Messenger grew faster than any other app, according to Nielsen. (All told, the standalone app saw a 31% increase in users.) And, by comScore’s count, Facebook Messenger has even surpassed Google’s prized YouTube app in terms of consumer reach.

This year, more than 1.4 billion consumers will use mobile messaging apps, according to recent eMarketer projections. If accurate, that will represent a 31.6% increase in usage rates, year-over-year.

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What’s more, the popularity of messaging apps is only increasing. By 2018, in fact, the number of chat app users worldwide will reach 2 billion -- representing 80% of smartphone users, eMarketer expects.

Cathy Boyle, senior mobile analyst at eMarketer, recently attributed the messaging boom to several factors, including “consumers’ growing interest in intimate forums for social sharing, the multiple modes of communication offered by messaging apps and the growing number of features offered, including peer-to-peer payments and mcommerce.”

That all bodes well for messaging mavens, and threatens to leave email leaders -- like Google -- out in the cold.

That reality was on everyone’s mind at MediaPost’s Email Marketing Summit earlier this month. As an email marketer, “You’re going to be part of messaging,” said Keith Pape, VP of marketing & digital engagement at One+K.

It’s no wonder, then, that Yahoo -- another longtime email leader -- just revamped its messaging product, and LinkedIn debuted a standalone messenger app, this summer.

Yet Facebook’s vision for a messenger-led future continues to stand alone. The social giant made that clear earlier this year when it turned Messenger into a platform for developers to directly distribute their apps. Trying to upend customer relationship management, meanwhile, Facebook is also trying to position Messenger at the center of business-to-consumer communication and ecommerce.

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