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Instant messaging apps have grown in popularity and depth for personal and business use.

These mobile connected platforms gained unprecedented global appeal for their multi-function, multi content distribution use. Swipe, click, press, share, broadcast, pay, emojify your existence: our lingual and visual relationship with communication has morphed into scrolling feeds of message boxes that demand attention like no other.


#AIMemories

The world’s first IMs emerged during the 70s and 80s as ‘peer-to-peer protocol and allowed for communication between two directly connected computers.’

Fast forward through a 1983 system called Talk, Internet Relay Chat, Commodore 64’s Q-Link, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, multi-protocols Jabber, Pidgin, Miranda, and onto the Gold Age of Social Media use and Smartphones.

Welcome to instant, multi-content, OTT platforms that democratised direct communication much to the dismay of global telco’s voice and SMS revenue streams.

Good for business? The Statista latest insights (shown below) as at October 2018 define the mobile instant landscape of deep immersion in global markets.


Latest stats as at October 2018 Statista.com

“The reason for success of OTT is because it is giving value to end customer with tremendous innovation….OTTs have added billions to productivity of businesses and enhanced quality of life.”
Broadband India Forum President
T V Ramachandran

Simliar Web’s 2018 report on global growth of mobile messaging apps shows Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger taking the crown and reign at the #1 spot in a total of 168 countries (89% of the countries measured).


2018 Global footprint of the world’s most popular messaging app

Platforms

Acquired in 2014 by Facebook, Whatsapp has grown to 1.5 billion monthly active users to date in markets outside of the US.


1.5 billion users worldwide

Now the number 1 app in 104 countries, it dominates the market by being downloaded on more than 90% of devices. South Africa and India are enthusiastic about Whatsapp and lead with 90% and 95% app install rates consecutively. Whatsapp’s appeal lies in intuitively simple user layout, allowing and providing users the following:

  • Make voice and video calls
  • Have group conversation with up to 250 people
  • Enabled with end-to-end encryption
  • File exchanges of up to 100MB
  • Ad free experience
  • Sharing current and live location for a particular time frame making it secure
  • Sending voice recording in small snippets

Facebook Messenger which became a standalone app in 2014 is among the top two in 92% of the countries when it comes to App Install Rates.


1.3 billion users worldwide

It’s popularity lies in:

  • Chat with bots for a customer care experience
  • App is independent of Facebook but carries over the experience
  • Video and voice calling including voice messaging is built in
  • Integrates with a range of third party apps
  • Hold secret chats that are encrypted

First released in 2011 by Chinese company Tencent, WeChat is marketed in its home market China as Weixin; then rebranded as WeChat in 2012 for international audiences. With 1.08 billion users worldwide, WeChat has many popular features especially Moments. About 61 percent of WeChat users access WeChat Moments every time they open the app, and 22.6 percent of WeChat users use the WeChat Moments feature often.


1.08 billion worldwide

It’s loved because you can:

  • Make voice and video calls
  • Set up group messaging
  • Play games
  • Make payments
  • Follow accounts

Regulation

When the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on May 25, 2018 in the EU, it became binding for all countries, including South Africa, with operations in the EU. The Regulation focused on management of personal data by organisations. The ePrivacy Regulation that was introduced soon after in the EU, focuses on electronic communications including VOIP, iOT and instant messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.

The GDPR addresses the issue of “consent”, but in a wide-ranging context the ePrivacy Regulation was designed to address “consent” in a more practical, easier to understand manner to ensure that individuals have the ability to control their personal data and privacy.

South Africa has made strides to follow this international move with the more recent introduction of the Cyber Crime Bill where the latest version was published in October 2018.

The Cybercrime Bill creates many new offences. Some are related to data, messages, computers, and networks. For example:

  • hacking,
  • unlawful interception of data,
  • ransomware,
  • cyber forgery and uttering, or
  • cyber extortion.

The CyberBill will now go to the National Assembly for debate hours from now. We will update this article once the outcome is released.


Want to continue the conversation on mobile messaging platforms and its potential and/or impact on your business or organisation? Leave your questions in the comments below. Or you can email us too on talk@sociallyacceptable.co.za

Ciao for now.

Socially Acceptable is a South African media and communications company, with a focus on technology, digital marketing and public relations. With offices in Johannesburg and Durban, we provide services throughout the country and African continent.

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