By David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products
The first week of the New Year is always a good moment to look back at the year behind and think about the one ahead. The Messenger team’s mission is to make Messenger the best place to communicate with all the people and businesses in the world. I’m happy to report that we’ve made a good step in that direction, and toward the end of 2015, we crossed the milestone of 800 million people using Messenger each month. It’s a good number, but we believe we have so much more opportunity ahead of us, and these are still the early days of Messenger.
2015 was a year when we made significant improvements to how we enable people to communicate. Among other things, we made Messenger blazing fast, we introduced video calling, the ability to customize conversations with colors, nicknames and emojis, and with Businesses on Messenger, we introduced a new way for businesses to engage their customers by providing them with a delightful, personal experience. We rolled out the ability to send and receive money to friends right from conversations, launched Messenger Platform for expression apps, and updated the way you can choose to share your location. We added helpful information at the top of new conversations so you always have the context of who you’re talking to if it’s not a Facebook friend, and with Message Requests, we built the foundational step of enabling you to find and talk to anyone. We also made photo sharing with friends easier than ever with our new feature Photo Magic. Additionally, we started testing M, a digital virtual assistant, and closed the year by launching our transportation platform with Uber. It was a busy year! We created all these experiences with a mindset of helping hundreds of millions of people manage their daily interactions with people, businesses, and services more seamlessly than ever.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few themes for Messenger 2016:
The disappearance of the phone number
First let’s set some context. Think about it: SMS and texting came to the fore in the time of flip phones. Now, many of us can do so much more on our phones; we went from just making phone calls and sending basic text-only messages to having computers in our pockets. And just like the flip phone is disappearing, old communication styles are disappearing too. With Messenger, we offer all the things that made texting so popular, but also so much more. Yes, you can send text messages, but you can also send stickers, photos, videos, voice clips, GIFs, your location, and money to people. You can make video and voice calls while at the same time not needing to know someone’s phone number. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to use Messenger anymore, and it’s also a cross platform experience – so you can pick up where you left off whether you’re on a desktop computer, a tablet, or your phone.
Threads are the new apps
We’re seeing a paradigm shift in how people engage. At Messenger we’re thinking about how we can help you interact with businesses or services to buy items (and then buy more again), order rides, purchase airline tickets, and talk to customer service in truly frictionless and delightful ways. It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity – no need to ever login – rather than downloading apps that you’ll never use again and jumping around from one app to another. Our early tests in 2015 with brands are showing that interactions will happen more and more in your Messenger threads, so we’ll continue making it easy for you to engage with businesses, and we’ll also do more to enable additional businesses and services to build the right experience in conversations.
We’re all social beings
We love to share, chat, debate, discuss, and inform, most often with those closest to us. Messenger now gives you many tools to help you personalize your conversations no matter who you are talking to – your dorm corridor, your co-workers, your mom. We’re looking at ways for you to build your own space to communicate just the way you want to in your own style and tone – think of it like your very own social handshake. And one to one messages aren’t the only option. Groups on Messenger are the very best way to coordinate with friends, family, coworkers and others to make plans or even just to make sure you don’t miss anything when you can’t all be together in person.
You can expect us to keep trying new things, too. Our test of M, our digital virtual assistant, powered by human-trained AI, is going well. It’s still very, very early days, but the growing AI capabilities are bringing unparalleled convenience to simple, every day tasks like booking a restaurant, sending flowers, and making plans. There will be more innovative developments to come from Messenger this year.
It’s all about delight
It’s really important that we build products that solve real problems for people. We want all of our experiences to be delightful and helpful, and to make your life easier, but we also want to empower you to put a smile on the faces of those people who matter the most in your life.
The whole Messenger team is excited about the year ahead, and as the year goes by, about unveiling what we have in store for you. We hope you’ll enjoy these improvements.