Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson has compiled a list of events that has happened in 2014 and what we have to look forward to in 2015. At the top of the list is his belief that the social media phase of the Internet has ended. By this, he means that entrepreneurs and developers are still working on social applications (witness Biz Stone’s new social network, Super!) but that the established social platforms have matured and have secured their places. There hasn’t been any real innovation in the arena for some time now and instead, families and groups of friends are and have moved to messaging. WhatsApp groups are easier to manage than Facebook and the younger generation are using Snapchat in their droves rather than Instagram. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp underscores this move.
Let me take a look at Snapchat as one example. The service was launched in the second half of 2011. Snapchat are not very forthcoming with their user and installation base but we believe that over 400 million messages were sent and received every day. Two thirds of Snapchat users are female and the application has about 60 million installations, of which half are active users and the majority tend to use the applications every day. This is larger than Instagram when it was sold to Facebook for $1 billion… but I do need to write that it’s Facebook who stand the most to gain from the changing trends. According to BI Intelligence, messaging applications have added users faster than social networks for the last couple of years and are likely to overtake early in 2015. Facebook own four brands and separate services; Facebook and Instagram (two of the biggest social networks), then Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (two of the most popular messaging services).
We’ve also witnessed messaging services start to have an impact in the enterprise circles, too. Large organizations are moving away from enterprise email services to enterprise messaging, either formally or informally. We have seen secure messaging services sprout up to pick up where BlackBerry’s BBM left off and this is a trend that I expect to continue, because security is likely to continue to be very important. Fred Wilson observes that , “the US takedown of North Korea’s internet last week, and the state department official’s comment that ‘I guess accidents can happen’ is a moment to remember.” Combine how YouTube has rapidly become one of the main go-to entertainment services for the younger generation, right until “The Interview” became available on Google’s streaming video service last week.