Wed, Nov 13, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Facebook threatened by teen exodus to new messaging apps

Teenagers are saying ‘goodbye’ to Facebook and ‘hello’ to messenger apps just as their parents get the hang of social networking, because these apps offer more privacy and give online communication a more personal feel

By Parmy Olson  /  The Observer, LONDON

“What we’re seeing in the messaging space is an explosion in growth,” said Tom Hsieh, Spotify’s vice president of strategic partnerships, who hinted there would be partnerships with other messaging apps in the future too.

It is worth adding that, with so many of these apps getting into games, stickers and now music sharing, it is becoming harder to define them as messaging services.

“I think there is some misunderstanding here in how we categorize these apps,” said Pavel Durov, who founded Russia’s version of Facebook, VK.com, and recently launched a mobile messaging service called Telegram.

“They are social networks. You have a social graph there; a newsfeed; you have profile pages. Many things that are related to social networks by definition,” durov said.

Social chat apps is another way to define them, Gartner analyst Brian Blau said.

Who dies, survives or thrives may ultimately depend on how well any of these players can make money.

Snapchat, arguably a photo-sharing service more than a messaging app, has yet to explain how it will accomplish this.

WhatsApp says it is already profitable thanks to its annual subscription fees; Pinger relies on advertisements; WeChat, LINE, Kakao and Kik sell stickers and games.

Some of these services are bound to go out of fashion and a few business models will fail, and they are still a world away from the US$2.1 billion in sales that Facebook brought in last quarter.

However, there is little doubt that millions of teens will increasingly use these apps, and older demographics will eventually join them. There is a good chance that will continue to be at the expense of Facebook.

Parmy Olson is a technology writer for Forbes magazine in San Francisco. She is the author of We Are Anonymous.

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