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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Three is the magic number, for messaging clients that is

I've found it interesting that throughout my career, the number of messaging apps I use simultaneously has been about 3. Three is a magic number.

There are always challengers to break into the top 3, but the core number has remained about 3. I'm talking about mostly synchronous instant messenger clients.  This doesn't include email or things like Linked-In In-Messages.

I'm also convinced there will never be unified messaging. The road is littered with companies who have tried.

Instant messaging is a commodity by itself, but the social network attached to the messaging system is not, because there is value in the social network attached to the messenger.  It's probably also the case that a person can handle at most 3 social networks at a time.   I haven't thought more about that, but it's probably true.

The other observation is that popularity of messaging apps seems to extremely localized across either geographic, cultural, or lingual boundaries. At the start of my career, there was Aol Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo Messenger!, and ICQ. The first two were split across whosever Mail product you used, and ICQ was pretty much for the rest of the world. Over time, I think MSN Messenger supplanted ICQ, especially in Asia because they supported extender character sets.

These days the 3 are Google Hangouts (Talk),  Apple Messages (SMS) , and Avocado.

What's app is waiting near the ring to knock out one of the contenders soon, for my co-workers in Europe.

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