With the advent of mobile devices selling twice as faster than PCs, we now live in the age of real-time messaging and push notifications. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage in the west, and Kakao, Line, WeChat in the east are the prominent market leaders.
There is one stark difference between the leaders of the west and the east. The eastern leaders, namely Kakao, Line, WeChat all evolved to become a unified business platform, providing games, mobile payments & P2P lending, taxis, mobile commerce, content curation, and so forth. Each new areas are adding billions of dollars of business value to the messenger behemoths.
We have yet to seen such phenomenon on the western leaders yet. They are all focused solely on messaging functionality, and only recently Facebook messenger is expanding its territory into money transfers. Kik messenger had tested out the business platform strategy, but hasn’t taken off like the eastern players did.
We have a theory about this. When you look at how the portals and search engines in the east evolved, they were all pretty much walled-gardens. They hosted the content, hosted the businesses, and made them cohesive within their platforms. This was good for users to a certain extent, until they became monopolies for search and content, comparable to mixing Yahoo and Google together. This is possible because of the homogeneous nature of the users in these countries. The lower level of diversity among population group becomes a perfect target for editorial content and services.
When you look at how Google, Facebook, and others evolved in US, you notice the difference. They opened up. Google didn’t create or host content, but instead they searched outside of their platform, scraping content surfing the world wide web. Facebook had the users and the user-generated content, but they’ve also opened their APIs and the open platform strategy worked tremendously well, creating an entirely new generation of startups like Zynga (they were cool back in 2009-ish), Spotify, SoundCloud, and even Instagram piggybacked off of the distribution channel enabled by Facebook in the early days.
The key difference is the open platform vs walled-garden. Due to the high level of diversity in the western countries, a single editorial content and service usually cannot hit that many sweet spots at once, and as a developer or content creator, you have to target a specific audience, otherwise be really great at machine-curation like Amazon. So it is the job of the platform to be open to embrace the diversity of their users.
We believe this is what will take the messaging business to the next level in the western countries. Messaging with an open platform for other businesses to piggyback, and letting users decide, being able to share which content and services get to survive right within the messenger, talking to other users.
At SendBird, we are introducing Integrations. Starting with a select group of 3rd-parties with open APIs, app developers usingSendBird will be able to harness the content powered by popular services right within the messaging solution provided by SendBird. We will eventually open up our platform so that any businesses can provide their content and services on to apps enabled by SendBird. Of course, the developers ultimately have the control of what services gets to be enabled within their own apps, but by providing an open directory of 3rd-party services, they will have access to limitless content and features provided by the ecosystem which users can share and consume right within the app.
This will free the developers from the pain of integrating other businesses into their service. This will change how users spread the news, buy products, and consume content. And developers can do this with just a few clicks of a mouse on their SendBird dashboards.