Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat that offers real-time text transmission over the internet. IM has been around for more than 10 years now, with Windows Live Messenger being one of the first to introduce this concept in 2010. Messaging Apps were then introduced a few years later, which were intended for mobile devices.
After the shift from Windows Messenger to applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, messaging apps had more users in 2014 than social networks.
At present, the latest Messaging App Usage Statistics report indicates that WhatsApp has 2 billion users around the world, Facebook Messenger 1.3 billion and the Chinese messaging app WeChat has reached 1 billion users.
In addition, Facebook applications that include the Facebook App, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, have over 2.9 billion active users per month- with 2.3 billion people using one of the apps every day. Facebook alone has 2.5 billion active users per month, worldwide.
The spread of Covid-19 has meant that more people have resorted to mobile communication. Reports indicate that users of IM services will grow 9 percent reaching 4.3 billion this year.
As such, applications are beginning to realize the potential in diversifying services in food delivery, travel booking and shopping via digital platforms, just like WeChat, that offers other capabilities beyond messaging. Based on the fact that the virus has changed so many aspects of life, company perspectives are shifting with many now pushing to broaden their scope of services in e-commerce, and online business activities. Facebook has launched its e-commerce initiative Shops, allowing businesses to display and sell products on its platforms with the help of instant messaging through Messenger.
“It’s clear that Facebook does have very broad ambitions here,” said Bob O’Donnell, President and Chief Analyst at TECHnalysis Research. “Their goal is to be the WeChat of everywhere but China.”
Finally, tech companies are already in the process of developing e-commerce channels making use of digital payments with further ambitious plans to boost the use of messaging protocols, even after the virus is over.