Facebook Positioning Itself as “WeChat of the West”

January 26, 2016 - 2 minutes read

Android app developers in the Asian market have been capitalizing on chat apps for years, combining the benefits of social connectivity, the decline of SMS, and the desire for simplicity to turn their chats apps (WeChat, Line, etc.) into one-stop-shops for everything from paying for services to shopping for clothes.

Now San Francisco iPhone app developers seem to be following suit, with some of this year’s hottest startups centered on mobile messaging interfaces. Meanwhile, big names like Facebook and Slack have invested millions in mobile app development in AI assistants and internal integrations.

Mobile app developers at Facebook recently dissected this trend in-depth on their official blog, touting the following mobile app usage patterns and user needs as driving their continuing development on top of the Facebook Messenger interface:

  1. The disappearance of the phone number
  2. Threads are the new apps
  3. We’re all social beings
  4. Innovation matters
  5. It’s all about delight

Facebook’s virtual assistant, alongside the integration of payment options similar to Apple Pay, are quickly positioning the social network’s standalone mobile messaging app as a strong contender for market domination if messaging and AI assistants continue to gain popularity in western markets in 2016. Currently, Facebook Messenger mobile app users can perform tasks as disparate as ordering Ubers and sending friends payments through thread-style exchanges with AI bots. Meanwhile, integrations like Assist from third-party mobile app development companies extend that logic even further: order pizza; deliver flowers to Mom; get advice about local attractions; the sky’s the limit.

The main problem with Messenger could be the same thing that makes it so popular in the first place: its association with the Facebook social networking site. If their mobile app developers are successful in pulling the entire Facebook experience into the mobile environment, the app will stand a much stronger chance of gaining ubiquity as a go-to messaging interface. In the US, at least, iMessage could pose a serious threat to that goal. Only time will tell if Messenger’s multitude of add-ons will be enough to trump iMessage in the Apple-oriented US marketplace.

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