Desktop and mobile messaging

Over the past few weeks WhatsApp has rolled out a web client to complement its previously mobile-only experience. From a technical point-of-view this was WhatsApp playing catch-up with its rivals.
Mobile social network ecosystems
Skype has long been a multi-platform messaging system that made the leap to mobile over eight years ago. LINE has had both desktop and mobile applications for a while. WeChat had had a web interface for at least two years in addition to its mobile client and dedicated desktop clients for both OS X and Windows.
wechat app
Those whom I spoke to who had used the web interface talked of WhatsApp’s ‘unique’ way of handing off from mobile to the web through the use of QRcodes. And they were surprised when I showed them WeChat’s implementation that looked eerily similar and has been around for much longer.

There is a certain paradox that the most successful OTT messaging platforms now have a presence on the desktop, yet instant messaging clients like Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and ICQ weren’t able to successfully move from desktop to mobile.

So why desktop and why now?

Is it about WhatsApp putting pressure on Apple to change its model to suit WhatsApp?

The Messages app in iOS is secure, supports voice, photos and text messages. It offers much of the functionality of WhatsApp. WhatsApp complains that it can’t repeatedly charge on a yearly basis for its service on iOS, yet iOS has supported in-app payments for a while. I suspect WhatsApp wants to get a free ride or its beef with iOS is from some unstated reason.  In summary, whilst WhatsApp’s web service is only available to Android users, I don’t think that this is really about Apple.

It is threatened by other apps?

WhatsApp has a big presence across the world (outside of China) in the OTT messaging space with over 700 million active users. However other services are managing to increase their footprint.

I took a straw poll of some friends with regards their messaging usage. Did they just leave one platform for another in the same way that Google won out in search or was there something else going on?

Most people that I spoke to weren’t generally deleting  the more popular messaging apps and moving from one to the other generally. (They had tried and sometimes deleted the likes of Telegram or Wickr for instance). But they did have different groups of contacts in different places. So WhatsApp probably isn’t losing its spot on established users phones at all, and having a rival app on a phone isn’t likely to make WhatsApp lose out from being downloaded on a new phone.

By all accounts, different messaging platforms are about different groups of friends and contexts. WhatsApp tended to connect with family more often than other messaging services.

Is is about usage time?

I suspect that this could be the case. It was interesting to hear a couple of friends talk about LINE. They commented that LINE had a range of stickers, but the main reason is that you can use LINE at work without having to use your phone and it be obvious with your boss. I think that this is where WhatsApp could be feeling a gap and decided to fill it.
what is mobile
It also begs a second question. When you have laptops that will run for 8 to 10 hours on a battery and slip in a bag like a tablet, is desktop yet another mobile device? The kind of work usage mentioned would also fit in nicely in a coffee shop or in front of the TV with the family; a subtle back channel to the outside world.

My understanding was that WhatsApp was focused on getting people in the developing world on board, they provided a lean bandwidth frugal messaging platform that was leaner than Facebook. Instead, the web interface is more aimed at ‘first world problems’.

More information
Four Of The Top Six Social Networks Are Actually Chat Apps | Marketingland
WhatsApp hits 700 million monthly active users — GigaOM
Messaging app Kik passes 200M users | VentureBeat
From Messaging Apps To Ecosystems : Line, WeChat, Viber & Others | LinkedIn
Why Apps for Messaging Are Trending – NYTimes.com
Every app is a communications app | Layer
WeChat to overtake WhatsApp as top messaging app in India: GWI | Digital Market Asia
WeChat Dominates APAC Mobile Messaging in Q3 2014
Tencent Drafts Chinese Expats for U.S. Duel With WhatsApp – Bloomberg

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Now on Twitter: group Direct Messages and mobile video camera | Twitter Blogs – playing catch up with OTT messaging apps

Mayer’s Yahoo Plan Could Affect Softbank Interests – WSJ – it depends on who Mayer sells to

Mobile internet slower in Hong Kong than mainland, S Korea | Hong Kong Economic Journal Insight – and the service I enjoyed in Hong Kong was significantly better than the UK…

The Real Story Behind Jeff Bezos’s Fire Phone Debacle And What It Means For Amazon’s Future | Fast Company – I don’t agree with some of the conclusions, but an interesting piece nonetheless

Army Communications In Pacific Stretched, Tested « Breaking Defense – interesting discussion about data networks issues

Google Joins Apple, Others Cutting Off Crimea, Blocks AdWords, AdSense, Google Play | TechCrunch – interesting to see how this rolls out from a tech point of view. Russia does have replacements such as Yandex in search, advertising and Android app stores

Disney’s Maker Studios Struggles to Migrate Its Audience To Maker.tv – CMO Today – can’t get the traffic off YouTube

Tumblr Launches An In-House Ad Agency That Pairs Creators With Big Brands | Fast Company – interesting move, shame agencies aren’t stepping up to the plate

Eric Schmidt Just Admitted Google’s Dominance Is Under Threat: ‘All Bets Are Off’ (FB, GOOG, MSFT) – actually not as billed but an interesting more nuanced portrait of the current landscape

Davos 2015: Tech giants risk reputation, warn business leaders – FT.com – this is less about the tech sector per se and more about lightning rods of inequality, of which the tech sector is just one

Things that made my day last week

Here is a collection of things that have made my day over the past week or so

I am a big fan of Studio Ghibli – a kind of Japanese thinking mans Disney Studio. One of their alumni Yoshiharu Sato has branched out and produced this amazing advert for a Japanese alcohol brand with a strong theme of nostalgia.

Before Christmas Fox Studios had used LinkedIn to launch the latest in the ‘Taken’ series of films with Liam Neeson’s character Bryan Mills riffing of his ‘particular set of skills’. Well we now know who won the endorsement from Bryan Mills and here it is.

The Prodigy are back and their latest track Nasty has a psychedelic urban fox video to accompany it.

INK Hotel in Amsterdam have used storytelling to create a unique recruitment video, labouring heavily the cast metaphor that service industry businesses have adopted a la Disney.

CAS software company Autodesk have an artist-in-residence programme called Pier 9, and created a great video about it.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

From ‘superman’ to ‘big tiger’, Li Ka-shing loses favour with Beijing | South China Morning Post – interesting analysis of the changing sentiment to Li Ka-shing

Smartphones At Tipping Point In China | Young’s China Business – domestic Chinese smartphone market likely to contract 10 per cent over the next year – shipments of all types of cellphones actually plummeted 22 percent in China last year to 452 million units, led by a 64 percent plunge in 2G models and 46 percent drop in 3G ones. (Chinese article) China’s mobile users now number 1.28 billion, giving the nation a penetration rate of 95 percent. 

Smartphone shipments didn’t fare nearly as badly as the older 2G and 3G models, but were still down 8.2 percent last year to 389 million units. That means that a hefty 86 percent of all cellphones shipped in China last year were smartphones, which were rapidly flooding the market as new players jumped joined the space and older ones ramped up production. 

It’s worth noting that the 389 million figure is unit shipments and not actual sales. I suspect a big portion of those smartphones — perhaps as much as 20-30 percent — are still sitting in distributor warehouses and on store shelves as unsold inventory due to the market saturation – expect channel clearing sales or developing market dumping

The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis: Drivers of Prediction Accuracy in World Politics – Journal of Experimental Psychology – interesting traits and teams rather than individuals tend to do better. It would be interesting to see how this affects the wisdom of crowds given they are a mass of individuals rather than a team per se (PDF)

LIVEhouse.in – Online Broadcasting Service – really cool Asian content

Case Study: How Huawei turned its smartphone business around | Marketing Interactive – superlative headline but interesting overview of programmatic buying in China via iClick

BlackBerry Responds to Media Report – Press Releases – not talking to Samsung, it didn’t sound like it made sense to me

Millward Brown Digital partners with Snapchat | Research Live – interesting they can tell an ad

UK’s Cameron won’t “allow” strong encryption of communications — GigaOM – this is the most disturbing stuff I have seen and read in a long term, the Home Secretary is a political role by its very nature. It is not even an independent judiciary signing off. Secondly, given the poor understanding of technology by the body politic in the UK it doesn’t inspire confidence – if there is a back door for HMG, there is a back door for an abusive third party. Finally this is crush or encourage innovative start ups who focus on privacy to move offshore – Shoreditch to Berlin for instance

Vinyl’s difficult comeback | The Guardian – interesting opportunity for manufacturing record press machines

Most Energy Drink Companies Market to Minors, Report Finds | Time – this could be a ticking time bomb from a regulatory point of view

The return of Luxxury

US remix and edit master Luxxury has returned with a remake of Kiss – I was made for loving you. In my view it sounds better in this version than the original. Luxxury’s style reminds me a lot of 1980s remixes a la Shep Pettibone and the Latin Rascals with a lot of use of dub effects.

Luxury got into hot water last year after remaking the The Eagles Hotel California and Blondie’s Rapture.