15 November 2013

Rorgy: “Facebook’s Brilliant, Boring Master Plan”

Facebook Messenger 3.0 iOS
I don't know if Facebook messages will ever replace text messages for me – it certainly won't right now, because I have no reason to switch away from texting the people I already text. But I've noticed that I write new friends on Facebook much more frequently than I text them: with the exception of people I actually live with, most of my conversations with new friends happen through Facebook, because we don't have much of a reason to exchange phone numbers at all. I could see Facebook gradually creeping up on my social conversations, offering me slightly more fun and functional ways to interact with them, until finally I go full hog and drag iMessages down to the "Bllsht" folder I dump all of Apple's other arbitrary apps into. It's not a flashy move on Facebook's part. But it's a move that I, as a user, can appreciate, and that might keep me using Facebook even as I discover other new social networks to occupy my time with. Rory Marinich

By an amusing coincidence I have only recently installed Facebook Messenger on my iPhone – just this Wednesday – and the next day it was already updating! The only palpable advantage of the previous version was the absence of chat heads, which in the regular app would take up about a quarter of the already crowded display area, leaving very few space for actual messages.

After the update Messenger finally starts to make sense as a standalone app, with tighter integration with the main app – and direct access to the phone’s address book! I have the feeling Facebook is aiming to build a WhatsApp competitor here: cross-platform (as you can plainly see on the Messenger homepage, depicting an Android and an Apple smartphone exchanging messages) and relatively independent of a Facebook account, since you can now message people directly on their phone number. If you can’t beat – or buy – them, might as well launch a nearly-identical offering, try to keep users hooked on Facebook.

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