What is the Future of Social Apps?


What a world we live in. Not too long ago, all cellphones could do was make calls, send out a few lines of text, and play simple, monochromatic games like Snake (though, let’s be honest – no mobile game has ever been better). Then, in 2007, came Apple's iPhone – this weird, newfangled device that many people initially scoffed at – and the entire mobile industry has never been the same. Thanks to the popularity of the iPhone, countless companies followed suit and soon rode the touchscreen smartphone wave, which pushed what Apple was initially going for into several bold, new directions. 

Nowadays, people are more connected than ever. The proliferation of smartphones with advanced mobile internet capabilities has made sure of that. And with the ability to easily and quickly download countless social apps with tons of rich media features, getting in touch with friends, family or colleagues has become more than just typing out simple messages. 

You can share photos, videos, life events, play games with friends, chat in real time, engage in video calls, and so much more. With a plethora of powerful social features already at any mobile device owner's disposal, one has to wonder: has the envelope been pushed as far as technologically possible? Where is all this headed?

The Course of Social Apps

In order to get a good idea of where social apps are headed, we can observe what some of the top companies in the industry are doing. If you think that consumers are the sole dictators of the course that market trends are taking, think again. Companies, especially those with a large, influential presence, have as much say in what the future holds as the average consumer

And what better company to steer social apps into the future than Facebook? Definitely the biggest and most influential company in the social network arena, they certainly have more than enough insight about what the current market is doing with social apps and more than enough pull to steer it towards a direction they feel everyone will embrace.

Don't believe it? Take a look at the company's recent moves so far: In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram. In 2014, WhatsApp, a cross-platform mobile messaging app for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows devices, for a whopping $19 billion. Not long after, the company announced at their own F8 Conference that Messenger, once a feature built into the main Facebook app, would be its own platform. Now why would the biggest social network company in the world invest so much in a rival messaging platform while evolving its own into yet another separate platform? 

Is This the Future of Social Apps?

The answer is simple. In 2014, mobile usage officially overtook desktop, and in the same year messaging apps grew by 100%. This is no coincidence. This data clearly suggests what Facebook saw, and why the company has now suddenly started to put a lot of its eggs into the messaging apps basket. The increased spike in mobile usage is largely being fueled by chat apps, and Facebook, as well as a whole host of other companies, know that this is where the future of social apps lie. 

If you think about it, it is not as far-fetched as it might initially seem. In addition to all the technological bells and whistles that come with them, the biggest selling point of modern mobile devices lies in how these easily facilitate a persistent social connection – by way of internet, texts, MMS, emails, and, yes, chat apps. 

People naturally crave to be in constant connection with their peers, which is why a lot of people can't seem to live without their mobile devices. And it is why apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Line, WeChat and the like are so popular. As the saying goes, no man is an island. 

From a Business Standpoint

But beyond what makes mobile messaging apps so appealing to consumers, companies like Facebook also realize that the chat apps environment is largely untapped from a business standpoint. While there are a ton of developers and companies that have jumped on the chat apps bandwagon, this space in the mobile apps industry is not as saturated as other media. To be more precise, there is a massive potential for monetization with chat apps that not a lot of companies seem to be taking advantage of at the moment. 

Sure, there are apps that operate under a subscription model, like WhatsApp, or apps that allow users to buy stickers, such as Line, but not everyone is doing it. This leaves the door open for more competition, as soon as more and more companies realize that mobile messaging apps are the new marketing frontier. 

What This Means for Consumers

Of course, as soon as more companies join in on the chat apps gold rush, this increase in competition, as history has taught us, will most definitely spur more innovation. While the current mobile messaging landscape already provides users with a ton of rich features, from photo sharing to high definition video calls, the future could hold even more interesting surprises ahead. 

Remember when innovative new apps like Snapchat entered the scene? When more and more companies realize the untapped potential of messaging apps, it is not that far-fetched to say that more and more creatively exciting apps could soon pop up. And with influential companies like Facebook leading the charge, who knows what the social apps landscape will be years from now?

Are companies like Facebook right? Will messaging apps truly take over as the primary social apps of tomorrow? Or will a truly revolutionary company rise up and introduce something entirely new and unexpected? 

One thing is for certain though, the more companies strive to outdo one another, the more the envelope of innovation will be pushed. This will lead to more social apps, more features, and more diversity. So whatever shape or form social apps take in the future, there is absolutely no doubt that it is the consumers everywhere that will reap the benefits.

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