Last Wednesday Facebook launched what it is calling “Messenger Platform” at F8, the annual Facebook developer conference.
The ‘platform’ is a natural next step after breaking off Facebook Messenger from Facebook. As noted by some, Facebook will keep WhatsApp for its signature pure, clean and lean messaging, while building up Messenger into a messaging mammoth, with endless possibilities that may already make your head spin.
Think video, audio and images. Think a world of search, information and online transaction from within the app.
Some say this platform may become bloated. Perhaps. But what it isn’t is a new platform.
While many bloggers have mischaracterized the platform as a new app universe it is not. There is no app store. And apps cannot run from within the Messenger.
The platform, in Facebook’s own words “enables developers to easily build apps that integrate with Messenger.” The integration is cute and helpful but rather superficial. It allows people to switch in and out of the Messenger-compliant iOS app and Messenger. It allows for easier content sharing.
Most importantly, it provides “developers with growth and reengagement opportunities.” If you have a Messenger-compliant app in the App Store, your FB friends will appear within the app. And if you send a message through an app to a friend without it, he or she can easily click “install,” go to the App Store and install it.
The bottom line for app developers is better user acquisition for these apps. The pool of 600 million Messenger users is quite attractive for app developers who are looking for any way to stand out and get in front of new users.
It’s true that Messenger-compliant apps already installed appear from within Messenger. But that doesn’t make them Messenger apps. They are still iOS apps.
Conceptually, Facebook wants you to think of this new wonderful world as a platform. It already may be functioning as one.
But technologically, an API and easy integration doesn’t make an app – even with 600 million users — into a platform. It makes it into a much more versatile, powerful, and fun app. And that may be big enough news, without the bells and whistles.