Facebook is planning on integrating the messaging services of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
While all three apps will continue to work as stand-alone applications, the underlying messaging infrastructure will be integrated.
For example, a WhatsApp user could message an Instagram user, which is something that is currently not possible.
The integration effort will be completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020, according to reporting by the New York Times who interviewed 4 people familiar with the project.
Why is Facebook Integrating the messaging components of Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger?
The integration effort of Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp is reported to have caused some internal strife.
Instagram’s founders, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, unexpectedly left Facebook in September 2018 as Mark Zuckerberg began taking more control over what was previously a completely separate application.
And WhatsApp founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, also departed for similar reasons.
Facebook hasn’t yet provided specific reasons for why they are making these changes, but there must be some reasons why they would reverse their previous position of allowing Instagram and WhatsApp to operate as independent apps.
Here’s my $0.02.
Messenger Integration Reason #1: Chatbots
Q: Who the heck would ever want to message someone on WhatsApp using Instagram?
It would be super-annoying for businesses to have to make separate chatbots for WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
Businesses would like to be able to message their customers regardless of what messaging platform they are using.
This change would appear (in theory) to extend the reach of a Facebook Messenger chatbot to a significantly larger and more geographically and demographically diverse population, which I think creates a super-compelling case for businesses to engage and communicate with their customers via chat.
Integration Reason #2: Alternative to Email
Email marketing today is a +$100 Billion dollar industry.
Yet email marketing is awful.
Any company or individual can simply guess your email or buy it from a email list vendor, then send you unsolicited emails.
And don’t expect those companies to honor your unsubscribes, despite government regulations.
Yet there is no credible alternative to email for business-to-consumer communications, due to user fragmentation.
Everyone uses email, yet people use so many different messaging platforms.
(I personally use Messenger, iMessage, SMS and sometimes even Skype.)
Merging messaging across these these 3 enormously popular applications would create a messaging system that could rival the ubiquity of email.
Businesses could reach most internet users, while users could look forward to the elimination of spam, since Facebook requires that users opt into receiving messages from businesses.
Integration Reason #3: WeChat
In China, there is no “news feed”.
There is only WeChat, which is used like an alternative to a Web browser — not just for messaging, but also to buy clothing, call a ride sharing service, order lunch, etc.
No such service exists in the Western-world due to user fragmentation of messaging platforms.
If Facebook could consolidate messenger utilization, more and more business could roll out business services (chatbots) on top of that platform.
And this would be enormously valuable to Facebook as Tencent (the parent company of WeChat) is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Originally published in MobileMonkey.com