Communications are rapidly evolving. Originally, there were grunts, then words, then letters, eventually telephones, smartphones, email, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, What’sApp, etc. As our interactions continue to evolve, there’s no question communication applications are big business. Facebook recently purchased What’sApp for $19 billion to complement the various modes of communication they already facilitate as a social network. Due to the incredible leap in interconnectedness brought about by the internet and smartphones, the desire to consolidate different forms of communicatory transmissions has increased dramatically. The key, it would appear, to designing a great communication app is to create a functional niche market.
Let us present the age old question: if you can post a status to Facebook, why tweet? They both accomplish the same action–sending a message to no one in particular within your network, but we don’t use Facebook statuses in the same way as tweets (nor vice versa) because our understanding of the function of Twitter is different from that of Facebook. Facebook is for connecting with your peers. It’s for sharing with your friends and acquaintances. Twitter is for the more mundane, minute-to-minute thoughts–when you have something to say but no one to say it to. It is for the concise. By including parameters (a 140 character limit), turns it into a sort of game; it’s carved out its niche market. You can send text messages with pictures, but Snapchat serves a specific purpose of ensuring your communications are private. If you can use technology to exploit a new, specific path of expression, you can make big money off communication apps.
“Yo!” is perhaps the simplest communication app on the market. Instead of allowing you to send texts, or pictures, or anything specific, “Yo!” only allows for one-bit communication. If you “Yo” your friends, they receive a message, which says simply: “Yo”. It’s sort of like a more ambiguous Facebook poke, the key being the context. It is up to the receiver of the Yo to decipher the meaning of the Yo. A Yo from a potential partner means something different than a Yo from a casual friend, the same way a Yo from a friend in the room means something different from a Yo from someone in another country. Launched on April Fool’s Day, “Yo!” may seem like a joke, but it’s certainly not being treated like one–Yo! has amassed over 2 million downloads and has recently been estimated to be worth up to $10 million. I
Pushback against the notion of an online identity has also lead to several successful innovations in communication apps, including Secret, Confide, Whisper and Yik Yak which offer users a way to communicate while hiding their identities. “This idea that you have to craft this perfect image online, that’s stressful. We want to remove that stress” says Secret’s co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler.
Facebook has developed their Messenger App recognizing and catering to their niche. Facebook recently made its Messenger app available via a separate download and discontinued messaging on the central Facebook mobile app, meaning you can only send Facebook messages through the Messenger app. The updated Messenger shows the user’s location under messages by default. It will also offer users the option of sharing the phone numbers in their address book and allow them to share messages with anyone on the list with a Facebook account. Facebook recognizes its niche is in reliable communication, the accuracy of your location and identity are vital to its mission. Recently profiled by the New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) said “More than 10 billion messages a day flow through Facebook’s messaging products. But I think we basically saw that the messaging space is bigger than we’d initially realized, and that the use cases that WhatsApp and Messenger have are more different than we had thought originally. Messenger is more about chatting with friends and WhatsApp is like an SMS replacement. Those things sound similar, but when you go into the nuances of how people use it, they are both very big in different markets.”
The market of communication apps is as big as the developer wishes to make it. An innovative, well-designed communication app will catch on. As humans, we are constantly communicating everyday. If a developer can create a new, exciting avenue for people to connect, he has great chance at making a hit app.
At Mystic Media, we’re experts in all things web, mobile, application, social media and marketing. To learn more about our services, contact us today at www.mysticmediasoft.com or by phone at 801.994.6815