Two messaging services. Focused on consumers. Doing practically the same thing. Do they compete or cooperate under Facebook’s roof?
Messenger and WhatsApp are the biggest messaging platforms toady. Messenger announced 800M monthly active users recently, while WhatsApp celebrated hitting the 1 billion mark. As they both strive to continue with this rapid growth, I have to question – are they joining forces or competing fiercely between themselves.
The reason I raise it stems with how they implemented web support and VoIP:
- Messenger unbundled from Facebook, opening its own independent site, which acts as a full messenger client. If you want to make calls, you use WebRTC for that
- WhatsApp created a web frontend tethered to the phone app. It cannot work without the phone nearby. And when it comes to VoIP, it might be using the same codecs as WebRTC, but not the vinyl implementation
They are taking different architectural approaches. But they end up implementing the same feature set.
WhatsApp in 2015
Here’s what WhatsApp did or was rumored to be working in the last year:
- Experimenting with video calling
- Planning to introduce tools for businesses to communicate with users
- Adds voice calling
- Introducing WhatsApp web
Messenger in 2015
Here’s what Messenger did in the last year:
- Facebook adds video calling to Messenger
- Unbundling Messenger from Facebook accounts – rely on phone numbers
- Unbundling Messenger from Facebook
- Introduced Businesses on Messenger
- Other notable additions include Transportation, sending money
Not much of a difference…
Running such a thing at scale of 100’s of millions of people is painfully hard. Doing that twice under the same roof is even harder:
- It seems like they develop everything twice or separate infrastructure and architecture.
- There’s no federation between the two – you can’t send a message from a Messenger user to a WhatsApp user – even though both belong to the same company
Where would each of these services go next for growth?
The above slide from eMarketer shows how in some countries, the main competitor of WhatsApp is Facebook Messenger – and vice versa. I think each of them tries independently to raise his users base – with no real regard of the other’s footprint at any given location.
This one from Activate goes to show how growth for both these platforms come from the same areas – and where they overlap or compete on the same set of users.
Something doesn’t work out here for me, though it is hard to lay a finger on it.
WhatsApp is probably still a strange bird in Facebook, far from the rest of the company and its DNA. Getting it in line with Facebook will take considerably more time.