Are Facebook And Google Missing The True Profit Potential Of Messaging Apps?

While peer-to-peer messaging on a mobile phone has always been the most basic of all mobile phone features, 2016 is shaping up to be the biggest year ever in the transformation of smartphone messaging into more than just a medium for communication. Putting aside the continued breakout growth of Snapchat and Whatsapp, there’s quite a bit happening with the world’s two leading message apps: Facebook’s Messenger and Google’s Hangouts eventually to be remade into Allo.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up their Messenger app for developers to build in-app bots that could do anything from receive news to ordering food. Google followed shortly by announcing Allo a brand new messaging app that will also have similar bot capabilities.

The plainly obvious goal of Facebook and Google in encouraging developers to build bots directly into messaging apps is to acquire more users of their messaging apps. Increased usage of the message apps and a larger user base leads to top line revenue growth for their advertising driven business models. Even though developers have already enthusiastically gravitated towards Facebook’s bot features with tens of thousands of apps currently available, Facebook (and eventually Google) may be ignoring the greatest opportunity to extract value from their apps.

Asia as the ideal
To view the true engagement potential of a messenger app can be, just have a look across the Pacific Ocean to the leading apps of Asia. The major Asian messaging apps of WeChat, QQ, Line, and Kakao Talk are not just growing their user base by leaps and bounds but they are even able to generate in-app revenue in tandem with that growth. Rather than encourage only developers to build onto their platform, the Asian companies build their own engaging and profitable add-ons by themselves.

The user base for these Asian apps are not just limited to Asia as according to estimates by SurveyMonkey Intelligence based on a panel of smartphone users, downloads are growing in the US too. While their current penetration pales in comparison to Hangouts and Messenger, the growth trajectory is heading in the right direction.

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