SAN FRANCISCO -- Already, Facebook Messenger can be used to send videos, pictures, stickers and even money. Soon, users will be able to message other things like a gif from Giphy, a video from JibJab or a sing-song message from Ditty.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled "Messenger Platform," which will allow a host of third-party developers to integrate their apps into Messenger, similar to Chinese messaging giants Line and WeChat, which have lively app ecosystems. The platform, announced at Facebook's F8 developer conference on Wednesday, will expand the kinds of content users will be able to send their friends on Messenger, which has more than 600 million monthly active users worldwide.
"Messaging has become about much more than just text, and with the launch of Messenger Platform, Facebook is opening up a new world of possibilities,” said Jacob Blackstock, CEO of Bitstrips, one of the initial 40 apps that will work with Messenger. "For developers like us, the platform provides a way to reach the social graph inside of messaging, where there's huge opportunity for innovation and access to millions of potential new users around the world.”
While well-known brands including ESPN and the Weather Channel are taking advantage of the new platform, strange newcomers will be enriching the messaging experience too. Take Ditty, which allows users to deliver messages sung to the tune of a number of hit pop songs. Facebook is pitching Messenger as an easy way for apps like Ditty to be discovered. Every time a user sends content from a third-party app through Messenger, the app's name and icon will show up in the conversation. Developers can head to http://messenger.com/
“It’s getting harder and harder for individual apps to stand out,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal social media analyst for eMarketer. “The appeal for developers might be ‘Hey, if you build on the Messenger Platform you’re going to get more traction for your app or your service because you’re integrated.’”
Facebook also announced Business on Messenger, which will allow business to handle customer support using the social network’s messaging service. For example, a customer could message a business using this new feature to alter an online order after it’s been processed, said David Marcus, Facebook's Vice president of Messaging. Business on Messenger will rollout in the coming weeks, launching initially with a “couple of partners."
"We truly feel that together we have a shot at reinventing how a billion people communicate every day,” Marcus said.