Every time you message a friend online, you are forced to choose between dozens of different messaging apps that all serve the same purpose. We can all agree this fiasco of too many messaging apps causes confusion, stress, and leads to an even worse communication experience. For that reason, the future of messaging relies on consolidating all messaging platforms into one experience.
Before we solve the problem, we need to understand how we created the problem.
Back in 2007, Steve Jobs changed the world when he captivated an audience at the MacWorld conference. About twenty minutes into his presentation, he prepped the audience for his big unveiling.
Jobs said that he was going to introduce “three revolutionary new products of this class”:
- A widescreen iPod with touch controls
- A revolutionary mobile phone
- And a breakthrough internet communications device
Then, after adding a little Steve Jobs charm, he told the audience it was actually just one product.
What made the iPhone so impressive, was that it consolidated the vast landscape of devices. The iPhone consumed the iPod and mp3 player, the digital camera, the calculator, the blackberry and the palm pilot, the laptop, and even the home computer.
In consolidating all these devices into one, Jobs undoubtedly decluttered desks and enhanced productivity, all while looking really good.
Ironically, though, Jobs replaced the device problem with a messaging problem. By outfitting all iPhones with iMessage, he created an exclusive messaging club for Apple users.
For instance, I’m an iPhone user but my friend Matt is an Android user. When we text each other, it is simply plain text SMS. Nothing special. Links I send him don’t show up with an image, videos don’t play right in the messaging interface, and a multitude of other features that iPhone-to-iPhone communication allows don’t happen.
To fill this void awkward void, we now have Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram Direct Messages, Twitter Direct Messages, LinkedIn Messaging, Slack, FaceTime, Google Hangouts…
Phew (breathes heavily)…
Line, Telegram, BBM, Google Chat, Allo, Signal, Viber, WeChat, Kik, LiveProfile, Tencent QQ, AIM, iChat, Yahoo, ICQ, GroupMe, Vkontakte, Mail.Ru Agent, Odnoklassniki, Yandex chat, Mamba.Ru, Mig33, SINA Weibo, Renren, Fetion, Gadu-Gadu, MeinVZ and Jabber…and I probably left a few out.
The State of Emergency in Messaging Apps
When I open up my phone, I count 18 different ways I can message a friend.
If it’s work-related, I choose Slack, LinkedIn, or Email. If it’s personal, I may send an iMessage, FaceTime, or Facebook Message. And if I want the world to hear me, I choose Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Each of these messaging platforms has a different format, as well. On Twitter, I’m forced to be brief, while Email expects me to be brief. On Slack, I have to address particular people in a group chat, while Facebook expects me to never single anyone out.
I say all this to confuse you…because it confuses me!
Don’t get me wrong, I love communicating with friends and think technology has made it a lot easier. But, it’s no fun thinking long and hard about which one of my messaging platforms best fits my message.
The alternative is choosing just a couple messaging apps to use. Of course, this is an awful alternative because you may miss out on some important communication.
For instance, I’ve never been a big Snapchatter, yet, one of my friends from childhood only uses Snapchat to keep in touch.
So, you sign up for more messaging apps than you need and turn on your push notifications so you don’t miss a message. But, this results in too much advertising noise.
Messaging a friend on Facebook is impossible without getting sidetracked by a LeBron James highlight reel, a Breaking News Update from The New York Times, or some other random thing I don’t need to pay attention to.
With all of this noise, we forget what we intended to do…communicate.
The only way to solve this horrible predicament is to consolidate them together. Which, ironically, they’ve already begun doing…
Messaging Platforms All Look the Same
The purpose of messaging apps is pretty clear: to communicate in the best way possible. However, as the popular messaging platforms release new, innovative updates, it forces the others to copy them. There are only so many ways to communicate. To not offer a popular feature that a competitor offers, could mean the end of that messaging platform.
As a result, the top messaging platforms must copy each other to stay relevant.
I like to joke around with my friends that the VP of Product at Facebook, is Snapchat. Over the past few months, Instagram (a Facebook company) copied almost every Snapchat update.
Now, in my eyes, if all the messaging apps do the same thing, in the same way, but are in different locations…isn’t that a huge waste of time and space?
Facebook has ideas of a consolidating all of its messaging platforms (Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram) into the Facebook app. But, hasn’t acted yet.
At a basic level, we communicate through hands, eyes, ears, and voice. One of the main reasons we have so many different messaging platforms is that different situations require different ways of communicating.
If I’m cooking, I can’t use my hands to text. But, I can use my voice, ears, and eyes to talk via phone or video chat.
If I’m at a noisy bar, I can’t use my ears and voice to talk. But, I can use my hands and eyes to text message.
Ideally, this consolidated, singular messaging platform would encompass all of our communication needs and adapt to the scenario we find ourselves in.
Decluttering Your Life
The only logical solution to regaining our focus with communication is to do what Steve Jobs once did with our devices…declutter by consolidation.
You can either be the Steve Ballmer and think this is an idiotic impossibility since we need different messaging apps for different functions. Or, you can be the Steve Jobs and realize that bringing all communication into one messaging platform would allow us to create better experiences suited to the user.
Although competition breeds innovation, sometimes you need to declutter the playing field to create a more streamlined experience.
This is no different than planning your daily routine. A cluttered day causes stress, discomfort, and non-optimal performance.
Taking a moment to write out your daily schedule allows you to determine what unnecessary activities are taking away from your day. Eliminating the deadweight frees up time for more important things.
Decluttering leads to balance. And when you are balanced, you are happy.
I’m glad you took the time to balance your day with some knowledge. If you enjoyed reading this Quick Theories article, I’d truly appreciate if you shared it one of your countless messaging platforms using the links below.