Facebook has made a big move this morning. The company announced that its Messenger platform is now open to outside developers. This means that your Messenger app is about to get a lot more crowded. So far, 40 new apps are available on the platform.
The Apps Added So Far
Right now, it’s been made clear that Zya Ditty (an app that sings popular songs to your Messenger friends), Zulily (the clothing store), and Everlane (retail store). Various other apps have been added, but those haven’t been announced yet. Why would Facebook want to add retail apps? Here’s where the social network’s new plan gets interesting.
Facebook wants to make it easier for retailers to connect with customers. By setting up apps through the Messenger service, it will be simpler for retailers to reach out to customers through the app. For example, if you buy something through Zulily, you can use the app to exchange the color or change the size, so you’d no longer have to rely on customer support through voice. You can just pick up your app, change the order, and move along.
Facebook has long worked with third party developers and outside companies to build stronger relationships including companies like Spotify. If a user decides to connect Spotify to Facebook, the social network then learns of that user’s listening preferences. These are the relationships that Facebook would like to build with other companies like airlines. If Facebook can get airlines to team up with the Messenger app, that could be a huge win for the company.
What could that mean for users? You may be able to book or change tickets directly through your Messenger app instead of calling an airline and waiting on hold. Or, you could speak directly through the app to a customer service agent in order to get what you need. All of this could mean more communication between companies like airlines and consumers - it also means more advertising for Facebook.
What You Can Expect
All of the new apps that are being added to Messenger should appear in your app starting this week. If you live in the US, you’re likely to get those apps before other people, and some of the apps may not work in other countries. Facebook has claimed that the information sent through the app will be private and secure, but it’s not a bad idea to keep in mind that any details you send about yourself to another company will eventually be kept for marketing purposes.
Hopefully, these new partnerships don’t mean that retailers can start messaging Messenger users randomly with ads and other deals (like the ones some of us get through our cell phones), but there’s no word on that yet, and it’s a definite probability. Facebook purchased WhatsApp not too long ago, but WhatsApp continues to be more popular than Facebook. Now, the company is looking to beef up its Messenger app to compete with WhatsApp and other chat programs out there like WeChat.