Soon we'll recall the good ol' days, when Facebook Messenger was used simply for messaging. The app appears headed for far more, and this week Facebook revealed its latest new feature: video chat.
"Video calling in Messenger is available for calls made from a mobile phone to another mobile phone, even if one person is on iOS and the other person is on an Android device," the company said in a blog post.
Video chat joins peer-to-peer payments as features within Messenger that have nothing to do with messaging. Facebook is also nearing the introduction of Businesses on Messenger, which will allow companies to conduct basic customer service activity within it. Facebook also recently opened up Messenger to developers, giving them the ability to build apps specifically for the platform.
Taken together, Facebook appears to be trying to turn Messenger into a version of WeChat, the do-everything messaging app, based in China. Not only can WeChat users message and video chat within the app, they can hail cabs and watch NBA games in it too.
There is no advertising in Messenger yet, but if and when it comes, it should be a mammoth opportunity for Facebook. The company has some of the best data on its users (including their first and last names and which devices they login on) but perhaps something equally important: their attention.
Unlike nearly everywhere else on the internet, Messaging is one of the few places where people only allow in their intimate contacts. So when something happens there, people pay attention. That attention can make messengers a far more attractive environment to advertise, especially when compared to the banner-cluttered web and saturated television market.