Facebook, the social-networking giant, reported on Thursday that its Messenger app has crossed 800 million users. According to research firm Nielsen, Messenger was the fastest-growing app of 2015.
Messenger – the fastest growing app
In 2014, Facebook created Messenger as a standalone app. The number of active monthly users of the app is higher than those of rivals such as Snapchat and Viber. It is only behind WhatsApp, which has 900 million active monthly users. WhatsApp is not exactly a rival as it too is owned by Facebook.
On Wednesday, in a phone interview with Reuters, David Marcus, Messenger head, said, “One of the things we have to work on this year is this perception or mindset that Messenger is only to speak with your Facebook friends.”
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Facebook plans to make money by introducing ads into Messenger, but when it will do so is not known for now. The biggest online social network in the world with 1.55 billion users, it makes money by selling ads that appear on people’s timelines.
WhatsApp is among the first apps that bypassed network charges and allowed people to exchange free text messages on smartphones. The Messenger app also allows users to exchange messages, but it also offers free video calling and some business services too.
Facebook making Messenger more than a chat app
Over the past few months, the social network has added several new features to Messenger, such as the ability to sign up without a Facebook account, making payments, video calls and the ability to directly communicate with the businesses. The company is also working with Uber Technologies, a ride-hailing app, to allow Messenger users to request a ride.
Facebook is also testing a digital assistant called M, which operates through Messenger. This will allow users to make restaurant reservations and airline bookings, among several other tasks. This service is available to only 10,000 people in the San Francisco Bay area now, but Marcus said the company plans to roll it out to more users later in 2016.
In related news, TechCrunch informed readers that the company is working on a “Chat SDK” that will permit developers to build bots for its Messenger app. These bots will make it possible for M users to access several services while chatting, such as shopping and traveling.
On Thursday, Facebook shares closed down 4.90% at $97.92. Year to date, the stock is down by over 6%, while in the last month, it is down by over 8%.