Despite healthy growth, Facebook acknowledges that its Messenger service is far from perfect. In particular, the messaging app has become “too cluttered,” according to David Marcus, head of Messenger at Facebook.
“Expect to see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year,” Marcus promises in a new blog post.
At the time same, Marcus envisions Messenger as the solution to a growing list of tasks — from organizing group activities to planning family vacations to doing homework to connecting with contacts via text, photo, video, along with real-time audio and videos.
At the moment, it’s not clear how Marcus and his team plan to reconcile these seemingly competing goals. To that end, Facebook is not yet ready to discuss how it plans to simplify Messenger.
One possibility might involve Facebook giving businesses their own platform on which to communicate with Facebook users, or aiding in the development of brand-specific messaging platforms.
“Bigger brand names are bringing a presence to Messenger (LEGO, Katy Perry, Apple Music), which signals the acceptance from CMOs that it’s time to create a unique and effective experience that can reach more people at scale,” Marcus noted.
Within Messenger or some complimentary platform, Marcus said to look out for investment in rich messaging experiences from both global brands and small businesses that need to be nimble to stay competitive.
Last year, Messenger surpassed 1.3 billion monthly active users, according to internal figures.
Speaking to the platform’s business-to-consumer potential, more than 200,000 bots are now live on Messenger.
Illustrating a broader move away from text for communication purposes, Messenger users sent more than 500 billion emojis -- and 18 billion GIFs -- last year. Plus, Messenger users participated in 17 billion video chats, last year. That's double the number of video chats recorded in 2016.
Yet for all the activity on Messenger, Instagram could inspire more messaging excitement in 2018. That’s because the Facebook unit recently began testing a standalone messaging app in smaller markets outside of the United States.
Dubbed Direct, the experimental app opens in camera mode -- just like Snapchat. Initial test markets have included Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Uruguay and Chile.
By April 2017, Direct -- still with the Instagram app -- had surpassed 375 million users.