Just recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he intends to unify the messaging element of Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. It's still not clear exactly what he meant by that, but whatever it is, don't expect it to come anytime soon.
The project, according to him, would likely not arrive up until 2020 and beyond.
"The integration that we're thinking about, we're really early in thinking through this," said Zuckerberg during Facebook's Q4 earnings call, as The Verge reports. "There's a lot more we need to figure out."
Unified Messaging Platform
Zuckerberg is mum on details regarding this unified messaging platform. It's not clear to what extent the aforementioned app will be unified. Is Facebook just going to make their messaging element look the same to maintain a standardized aesthetic? Or will it work in such a way that Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp users can talk to each other no matter which app they're using?
Again, these things need clarification, but Zuckerberg doesn't seem to be in the mood to share crucial details at the moment. He did elaborate, however, as to why the company wants it to happen.
As The New York Times first reported, Zuckerberg said he wants all major apps owned by Facebook to have end-to-end encryption, a layer of security that ensures messages sent back and forth between participants remain private. The company aims to apply secure messaging across its platforms, and Zuckerberg said it's the direction Facebook should be taking with more things moving forward.
Even though Facebook isn't sharing any more details, a unified messaging platform does make plenty of sense. Imagine a person finding something on Facebook Marketplace they want to buy, then having to open WhatsApp separately just to send the seller a message. Although that's not too bad, it is not at all seamless. Facebook likely wants to get rid of the friction in a scenario like this, allowing users to just go ahead and message sellers without changing apps.
It makes even more sense when one considers how this would ultimately allow Facebook to keep its users locked into a single ecosystem. That's what China has done with WeChat, which first was a simple messaging service but later evolved into a multi-purpose app that can hail cabs, send payments, and do a ton more other things.
It's anyone's guess whether Facebook is trying to emulate the direction of WeChat, but one thing is clear: Facebook wants users to keep using Facebook, and unifying Facebook-owned apps is a big step toward that vision.