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Why Facebook’s Mobile Messenger App is a big deal for Telcos.

I just finished reading a CNN article about the launch of Facebook’s Mobile Messenger App. For some reason, this new development from the world’s largest social network of 700 million users struck me as super significant. At this time, Facebook Messenger is only available as an iPhone and Android mobile app in a certain markets – it seems I cannot download it yet on Apple’s App Store in Kenya. However, you have to consider that once its available globally, and on multiple mobile operating systems and platforms, how big could it possibly become?

The truth of the matter is that most mobile networks globally make a significant volume of their revenues via SMS messaging. It’s a major part of their business and one that they have prospered on for many many years. However, courtesy of smartphones and the growing range of innovative mobile messaging apps, this revenue line is now under attack. I recently got a BlackBerry and have only started using BB Messenger. I have to say its excellent and I keep signing up more and more friends. It works and its free but unfortunately only works on BlackBerry.

In addition to the launch of Facebook Messenger, other mobile messaging apps of note are the soon to be launched Apple iMessenger in the next upgrade of iOS as well as WhatsApp Messenger which is really taking off as a multi-platform mobile messaging app. Not to be left behind, Samsung also recently announced that they plan to launch a mobile messaging service that will work across all their mobile devices in a ubiquitous manner.

Going forward, the most significant thing about Facebook Messenger is Facebook’s huge user base on a global scale. Facebook Messenger has the potential to reinvent mobile messaging and communications as we know it. Take Kenya for instance – there are over 1 million Facebook users. This in itself is as large as a small mobile network’s subscriber base, and its only getting bigger by the day. Facebook Messenger essentially makes Facebook a quasi-mobile network operator for free messaging.

This could indeed be a significant moment in telecoms history – the day that Facebook moved from being a social network to the “de facto” global mobile communications platform – it’s certainly conceivable that this could happen. One just has to look at how successful Google’s Android has been in the smartphone space to realize that technology innovation reinvents everything and that today’s enabler could be tomorrow’s disruptor.

 

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1 Comment

  1. August 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm — Reply

    I agree with your analysis and too was shocked at lack of media attention to recent release of Facebook application for java enabled phones.

    Facebook appears to understand that getting lots of users early and often penetrates user-ship into areas previously not available to the company. I guess when looking for the NEXT 1/2 billion users Africa offers growth unfound elsewhere.

    The ubiquitous and free universal messaging you mention is yet to sort itself out and I question your statement that Facebook’s app provides free messaging. It is my understanding that some volume of free SMS may be available upon launch but I thought Facebook was reserving right to have people pay for text messages they send using the service after initial offer ends. Am I wrong.

    As Africa leap-frogs into mobile its interesting to see Facebook leap-frog others in capturing impressive uptake in this increasingly important and growing user-base.

    I think a relevant point that your article leads to but does not claim is that new applications, especially p2a person2application, while increase all forms of messaging including SMS which is important part of MNOs revenue streams.

    Insightful and nicely done. Thanks
    Brian Puckett
    Web: http://www.next2.us
    Locate or text me at: http://m.next2.us/hungrygardener
    Twitter: @hungrygarden

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