Facebook Messenger is now totally independent of Facebook, as a Facebook ID is no longer required to sign-in for the messaging service. Messenger head David Marcus said that as of Wednesday, North American users can sign up for the Messenger mobile app using their cell phone number.
Messenger becoming WhatsApp
This latest change from the social networker follows internal research which concluded that many users want to use Messenger, but don’t want to be on Facebook, Marcus said.
“All of us have one or two friends who are not on Facebook and clearly they’re the minority at this point,” Marcus said, adding that since messaging is a “primary use case,” so the company decided to do away with the mandate of Facebook account.
After the change, Messenger users can still connect with their existing friends by allowing the app to scan their contact list i.e. matching it with the identical phone number already linked with Facebook profile.
Now, Messenger is almost like WhatsApp, which requires just the phone number. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in February 2014. The change will initially be available to the users in the US and Canada, Peru and Venezuela.
How does Facebook plan to monetize mobile apps?
Despite the rising popularity, experts are still confused over how messaging apps will make money. At Facebook’s annual developers’ conference in March, the social networker asked the developers to create apps and features specifically for Messenger.
Tencent’s WeChat generates revenue by allowing users buy clothes or books through the app and takes a cut of those transactions. Similarly, South Korea-based Line earns revenue by selling packs of stickers for about $1.99 apiece.
When asked about the chances of the U.S. firm trying to replicate the success of the Asian messaging apps. Marcus said, “We need to leapfrog what happened in Asia,” but he said that the Asian messaging apps will serve as a point of reference, but Messenger will not copy their strategy.
Messenger, which was created in 2011, was forced on to the users last year when Facebook made it mandatory to download the app to send messages via smartphones. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is keen on growing its Messenger user base, which currently is at 700 million, to over one billion mark. Other messaging apps from Facebook include WhatsApp, which has around 800 million users, and photo-sharing app Instagram. According to market-research firm Global Web Index, Messenger and WhatsApp are the two most-used messaging apps globally.