Messaging, Notifications, and Mobile

I’ve written about this stuff before, but I continue to be interested in it.

I actively use the following messaging apps on my phone:

Kik – my primary channel for The Gotham Gal, my daughter Jessica, and USV people

Snapchat – my primary channel for my son Josh

SMS – my primary channel for my daughter Emily and a lot of my friends

Hangouts – secondary channel for my daughter Jessica and USV people

Twitter DM – primary channel for people who don’t have my cell number

Though I don’t use them, I realize the following apps are quite popular in the US as well


Facebook Messenger





So how is it possible that we can all have and use four, five, six or more messenger apps on our phones?

It’s because the notifications channel is the primary UI on mobile, replacing the home screen, and its easy to communicate with people using a variety of applications on your phone.

What I’m wondering is if we will see even more fragmentation in our messaging behavior on mobile in the coming years, or if five to six apps per person is status quo, or might we see some consolidation?

I personally don’t see any reason for consolidation and if I had to make a bet, it would be on further fragmentation. Each of the apps I use offers something slightly different than the others. And so for certain people, and certain kinds of conversations, one messaging app is preferable to another. It’s very possible that entrepreneurs will continue to come up with unique and differentiated experiences and that will drive further fragmentation.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Emily Merkle

    What’s your rationale?

    1. fredwilson

      for what?

      1. Emily Merkle

        for your communication medium by individual

      2. LE

        The question by Emily above “What’s your rationale?” is a perfect example of what I said in another comment and called “the burden shift”. Instead of finishing the sentence and adding some detail so you know what she means she leaves it up to the receiving party to make sense of the message. What I don’t like about texting and emails sent by cell phone (or people who can’t type).

        1. Emily Merkle

          That was sincerely not my intention. I read Fred’s post; I thought about it; no one had commented yet; it felt like I was talking with him.That was my perception. I see it was not his, and I understand that.

          1. LE

            Interesting and I appreciate that you took the time to explain why you did this.Story: One of the things that was good and bad about my father is that I’d have to play this guessing game to figure out what he was talking about all the time. He’d say “so I spoke to him today and it” and I’d have to figure out by context what he meant by “him” and “it”. My mind would race while he talked on to fill in those blanks. I actually know for a fact that that benefited me in many ways (as much as I didn’t like it back then).

          2. Emily Merkle

            I imagine that was indeed frustrating, confusing, and would have left me feeling a little neglected, as if not being fully engaged with. My parents did not talk to me, period. Typical coming home from soccer game: Emily in front seat with dad <wish he=”” would=”” talk=”” to=”” me=”” please=”” talk=”” to=”” me=”” why=”” not?=”” anything=””>. then we would stop and I would buy candy to self-soothe 🙂

  2. jfccohen

    I think the messaging applications we use will further define fringe relationships out of convenience. Take 2 people, both of which you know somewhat well but aren’t willing to substantially change your communication patterns for them, the one on your preferred communication channel will end up with a better relationship with you than the other.Convenience of communication as a determinant of digital relationships is interesting to think about as the quantity of our digital relationships continues to increase.

  3. awaldstein

    I’m with you and see more fragmentation. Working with some that will add to this.The phone is all about verticalization of actions and communications and I don’t see that changing.

  4. LIAD

    Notwithstanding the ridicule/hyperbole regarding Yo, the concept of binary messaging also needs to be thrown into the mix. A very interesting development which has increasing use cases.What app will we use to get notifications from our nest thermostat, smart TV, connected fridge etc.Fragmented market of tightly defined use case messaging apps is where we are headed.

    1. William Mougayar

      Good point on the smart things. It’s already happening with email & text in the front seat. We have a UBI at home. It sends me an email automatically when someone says “Where is William”. We can even do more with IFTTT integration.

    2. fredwilson

      I think the Yo API is interesting but why can’t we just use native iOS and Android notifications for that sort of thing?

  5. PhilipSugar

    I think your behavior is normal in that people actually prefer to communicate to different people in different ways. It actually comforting knowing, I just got a text that must be my daughter or the cell is ringing that must be my wife, etc.

    1. awaldstein

      And its generational to some degree. I have some clients that just text, regardless of the context. Others email. Others DM.I see no upside to aggregation.

      1. Anne Libby

        And using the phone to to actually talk, increasingly rare.

        1. awaldstein

          I honestly love what different messaging choices have done to talking.Made it special as it should be. Made it unacceptable to mess with for marketing and sales activities.As it should be.

        2. JimHirshfield

          Wait… You can use the phone to talk?

          1. Vasudev Ram

            You can – if you _wait_ for someone to pick up the call.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Remember voicemail?

          3. Vasudev Ram

            No 🙂

          4. Anne Libby

            Only if one of the parties is over 40.

        3. Vasudev Ram

          That reminds me, I’ve observed that in India, over the last few years, public pay-phone booths are increasingly closing down. They used to be on every street and street corner, often mom-and-pop operations, along with a xerox and a fax machine and a PC printer thrown in for good measure. It’s probably because hugely many more people have cellphones nowadays, with the prices of both handsets (of dumb as well as smartphones) and voice/SMS plans having plummeted (India has low plan rates), not to mention all the mobile messaging apps that Fred mentions in this post.A good example of the way tech can change the world, for better or worse.

      2. LE

        Texting is super interuptive.One of the advantages of email is that it allows you to queue things up. That adds greatly to efficiency. Once again, using texting (and not being able to fully explain yourself) is a great way (in some business cases that is) [1] to waste someone else’s time. A burden shift. I also find this to be the case where someone asks a question by mobile phone and it’s both brief and ambiguous. Creates way more work. to many forks to consider (“does he mean this or that, oh well I will address both cases in my reply”).Plus with texting there is much more likelyhood of an “open mic” problem (see the reply to Hirshfield above where I attached a text that was sent to me in error).[1] It works well in certain cases of course where you need to send someone a short bit of info (part number, address, something discreet and not ambiguous)

        1. awaldstein

          For you texting is interruptive.For others, including myself, texting is super immediate and real time. Perfect attributes for navigation, alerts and real time messaging. And the chosen genre of man generations.Each to their own.

          1. LE

            You said “I have some clients that just text, regardless of the context.”The context is important.I’m not talking about clients texting to say “I’m running 10 minutes late” or “Can I call you now”. Or “what was that part number I’m at the Home Depot”? I’m talking about clients who want to discuss things by text back and forth. There is a difference obviously texting fits in with many situations.I’ve told people “we can talk at 3 send me a text when you are available around that time and I will call you back” etc.

          2. awaldstein

            Context is everything.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            Sounds like you, LE, Phil Sugar, Fred, etc. all want to jointly author, ‘Mobile Etiquette: Social Conventions for Our Time’. Now, will that be PDF, eBook, blog, Web site, paperback, mp3 file, YouTube lecture, or what?I never thought of you guys as being etiquette types, e.g.,. like my mother used a book by Emily Post, but maybe stranger things have happened!From now on I expect all of you guys to sit with your knees together, with your elbows in close, your right forearm horizontal, your hand at 45 degrees down, and your fingers 90 degrees down and aimed at the floor!:-)!

          4. awaldstein

            Here’s the interesting truth.People respect your way of doing biz.I get almost no blatent sales emails and NO calls on my cells from people I don’t know already even though my number is out there.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            Hey, everyone, once again Arnold gets the top prize for effortless, perceptive social insight! Yup, “interesting.” :-)!Ah, I don’t want to appear patronizing; your insight was good, and “interesting”.Yes, it’d be good if my brilliant, mathematical sociologist wife were able to analyze this ‘Internet social world’.And that “respect” is extending to a lot of Hacker News and a lot of Disqus sites, especially”Interesting”. It appears that the world is changing. Maybe from Internet norms there will be less bullying in middle school? Maybe.

    2. fredwilson


  6. Steven Kuyan

    I agree and think its all about the habits that we’ve formed that dictate the kinds of apps we use for certain people, expressions, etc. Fragmentation is going to be the norm for communication apps since switching to a different app is hard enough, so consolidation is going to be near impossible. Its going to take the service providers and headset manufactures to consolidate and I just don’t see that happening in the near future.

  7. Ryan Laubscher

    I’d have to agree with you Fred, when you say that you don’t see any real reason for consolidation.My opinion is that messages are largely triggered by a need to respond to something, and this need to respond is triggered by having seen something that merits a response. And then, I’ll pick the easiest and fastest way to make that response – so:- I’ll see a tweet that I feel strongly about, and I’ll reply, or DM the person back;- I’ll see a Facebook post and it will make me want to reply further than a simple ‘Like’;- I’ll see something from one of my engineers, who live on Hangouts, and I’ll drop him or her a quick chat on Hangouts;- I’ll see a blog of yours that I feel strongly about, and I’ll use Disqus to respond.So – it’s mental trigger via a channel, and then if that channel gives me a simple way to respond, then that’s the channel I’ll use. Simple as that.With respect to WhatsApp: 95% of my social graph lives on Whatsapp – be they in Singapore, Johannesburg, London or New York. So that’s my channel of use if I am the one proactively getting in touch.

  8. Dan Ramsden

    I wonder if we’re really talking about fragmentation or rather consolidation according to disaggregated channels. The distinction could make a difference in terms of valuations and opportunities.

  9. Michael Elling

    Divergence of demand is a really important concept, especially in light of the market’s fascination with and focus on convergence of supply. At the end of the day it means that pretty much everyone can be on their own unique demand curve. Not only is demand potentially infinite, it is potentially infinitely segmentable.If economic efficiency and ROI is about clearing supply and demand, then what are the implications for the the supply-side? Divergence of demand impacts business models and pricing, but, importantly, is relevant to the discussions around open access and universal service.And not taking divergence of demand into account is a big reason why the net neutrality folks are missing a key foundational element with respect to balanced settlements that serve as price signals and incentives to clear marginal supply and demand across boundary points and layers; north-south (app to infrastructure) and east-west (between networks/agents).

  10. Phil Wolff

    As WebRTC matures, we’ll see text, voice, video, and other talk become an easy-to-add feature for those who create contexts.Fragmentation in the extreme. Each advert for a live service. Every page on Wikipedia. Synchronous games. Office documents. Every record/transaction in an ERP.They will offer slightly different ways to trigger a conversation, to identify/anonymize the parties, to augment the conversation, and to provide post-conversation artifacts useful to the conversants.There will be art in shaping a medium to fit the context (teamspeak vs tech support vs negotiating a hookup vs classroom).Fragmentation will give rise to new services. Some help you solve the problem of building a relationship across points of contact. Others are about negotiating common channels among a group. And we’ll have new trust issues; so measures like certifications, ratings, and reviews mitigate risks of identity theft, bot fakery, and unwanted interruption.

  11. Lucky

    I totally agree with fragmenting this market. I think we are just scratching the surface. How does one monetize without disrupting the user from this experience ? Is it even possible ?

    1. awaldstein

      Good segue.Who has monetized messaging outside of acquisition in a model that can be replicated?

      1. William Mougayar

        One creative use I’ve seen is a restaurant that texts you when your take-out order is ready.

        1. awaldstein

          We are entering a fantastic new world.This blurb on Uber Ice Cream delivery is a vision of tomorrow and beyond where our needs & wants & mobile on demand intersect. SMS means to many it/I/you are ready.

        2. Anne Libby

          I would love this, if I could know I wouldn’t receive spam ad texts…

          1. William Mougayar

            Our AVC friend @markslater:disqus ‘s startup enables businesses to integrate Text messaging.

          2. Anne Libby

            Good to know!

          3. Vasudev Ram

            Interesting, will check it out.

        3. LE

          What’s the situation where that is helpful? I order by phone and then I know when it should be ready “about 20 minutes” etc. Why do I need to be notified that it is ready? Is this when you are living in a city, walk into a place, order, and want to go to the store next door for example?

          1. William Mougayar

            maybe these scenarios:1. restaurant is unsure of delivery time, so says will text you.2. could be they are full and don’t take reservations, and you’re waiting around, so they text you when your table is ready instead of yelling out your name to see if you’re still was offered once to me in toronto, and i thought it was interesting.

          2. LE

            The “text when table is ready” is an interesting idea. But most restaurants use these beeper things that seem to work well. Obv. it’s more expensive than a text system but to do the text system you need to have something to send the texting which means you need a way to integrate that and get it working correctly. The legacy red flashing beeper system is a solution to one problem that a restaurant can plug in and it works. Very simple. Also note that (and this is important) in a noisy restaurant you aren’t always going to hear texts. You always feel the beeper and see the flashing lights.As far as “1” I’ve never had that happen but that’s just me.Number “2” is a fine idea. I’ve always thought that could be implemented with hair salons and dentists as well. In other words you are on standby if someone cancels they send out a text that they have an opening. Lot’s of people cancel medical appointments (I’m told) and busy doctors would love to fill empty slots. Doesn’t do much with no shows of course (to late unless you are a few doors down).

          3. Ross Hill

            I was at a talk with Dominos Pizza in Melbourne a few weeks ago and they said for delivery that that arriving early was just as bad as arriving late, because people often make plans like bathing the hungry kids before dinner. They’re launching a GPS tracker soon for that, like Uber for pizza ha!

      2. Emily Merkle

        any data plan with any carrier

  12. William Mougayar

    And to think that a few years ago, only the telephone would interrupt our lives.I’m pretty close in usage to your list, minus Snapchat, plus Facebook Messenger, Skype and occasional Tango.The thing to add is that many of these double-up the notification by sending you an email about it.I think the tolerance level is about 6 for me. If it was a single one only, it would get pretty crowded.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Email notifications on most platforms can be turned off… But yeah, kind of ironic that they send email notifications.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        Best thing I ever did was spend an hour to reconfigure what things give me notifications on my iPhone. It became useful again!

        1. JimHirshfield


  13. Mike

    What does it say about either husbands or fathers? You use their app of choice to communicate with them rather than their using your app of preference to communicate with you. What about for USV and Friends? Your choice or theirs?

    1. JimHirshfield

      So true. Kids communicate the bare minimum, so best to use their preferred channel.

      1. LE

        Here we go. People treat you as you allow them to treat you (or whatever that saying is). I wouldn’t even begin to consider using a child’s preferred channel I would simply demand that they use the channel that I use. Txt message or email. They don’t listen or comply? They loose something.I’ll tell you something funny though. I have a tenant that was signed up through a realtor. After he was given my phone number he sent me a text with some questions and I replied back “what is your email address”.He then writes back “why do you need that?”.Why? Because I have things to tell you and I don’t feel like doing any texting for those things. Couldn’t believe he even asked why.Then later I get a text, apparently in error which he intended for a customer of his (he’s a personal trainer). Ooops (he did apologize). Guess that’s one of the problems with texting. The “open mike” error. See grab below.

    2. fredwilson

      I am willing to communicate with the important people in my life any way they choose

  14. JJ Donovan

    Regardless of the application, the interface should be available through a browser. I enjoy communicating with people on their preferred platform and I make a note of it. My phone will not support a myriad of applications and usually if I need to communicate with I am usually in front of a browser. A quick search of the applications listed above yields the following “Available through browser” entry. (I would love to be wrong about the one’s with a No. Feel free to suggest the third party or other solution.)It would be interesting to see the adoption of the platforms that have a browser component vs. those that do not. JJD – Texting the day away…Kik – NoSnapchat – May have a 3rd party provider, (When I logged on there today, it displayed a bad request error page)SMS – Yes, especially on Verizon. Their desktop app is super easy!Hangouts – YesTwitterDM – YesWhatsapp – NoFacebook Messenger – YesSkype – YesViber – YesTango – Appears to be available only on a Windows PC. (Really? In this day and age, OS specific? Good luck with that)Line – Yes (Note to Line developers. You used the Microsoft logo to denote Windows 7 and Windows 8, but yet for the Mac, you put a big X next to the download. At first I translated this X into (X = not available, but then thought it might just be for Mac OS X.) I would recommend, you use the apple logo and remain consistent. )

    1. JimHirshfield

      But we’re talking about mobile messaging and notifications. My read of your comment is that you prefer the browser because you are mostly immobile. Am I reading that right?

      1. JJ Donovan

        I agree, we are talking about mobile messaging and notifications. I want to communicate with people who are mobile and use their platform of choice. **Therefore I need the corresponding browser application.** My immobility is defined as the following: 1. My 3 year old Android phone appears to be at the max for any more applications. At this point dialing a phone number and hitting “send” takes 1-2 minutes before it will dial. 2. I am at a full size keyboard and regular browser for 90% of my day. The other 10% is in the car so I am not responding on any platform. 3. I can’t type fast enough on Android keyboards. Even with 1.5 years of practice with Swype. My mind moves faster than the keyboard.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Got it. Thanks.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        People can prefer a browser interface even when they are mobile. I do, in some cases, e.g. the Android Twitter app is not good (at least for me). Learnt about this via a tip on some web site, and then used it heavily for a while:To use on my mobile browser.Worked well. In fact, the tip, IIRC, was also about using the same URL even on desktop browsers, because it worked better that even on the desktop 🙂 Lately the mobile URL seems to have problems, though – keeps showing mostly old tweets. Maybe Twitter has stopped maintaining it after their recent revamp of the main site.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Oh, don’t get me started on the twitter app or mobile site. Ugh.

          1. Timothy Meade

            I’m using Plume, which I’ve used since my first Android device.

          2. JimHirshfield

            And how do you like it?

  15. Chris Cook

    I think we will definitely see fragmentation and mass customisation of apps.But the value creation/transfer (monetisation) function is a generic and neutral utility, where I think the end-game I imagine is an Apache Value Messaging Server owned by everyone and no-one with final permissioning of value transfers residing (cf Mydex) with the end-user.

  16. pointsnfigures

    could be that someone will write some sort of client that will manage all the different communication streams from the apps you use. Then, no matter which of the six apps you use to communicate, you can message from the one client app. Might be cool to be able to link different people using different apps as well. But, that is tough programming!

    1. William Mougayar

      It would take a lot of infrastructure & it’s expensive to do. Think that you’d almost have to replicate the original processing required for each App. Plus, few would pay for it. But it’s a good idea…maybe.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Yes. I invested in a company that tried to do it back in 2010, but it failed. Programming wasn’t the issue with that one, or money.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          What was, then, if it’s not confidential?

      2. Timothy Meade

        Could you just let the other developers plug in specific features plugin via cards? Build the basic communication channel and let the Instagram, WhatApp, etc. style features be built by third parties.The new world of ‘chat apps’ is anything but open, with the last vestiges of federation being shut down. There’s too much to gain from a closed system.Also, will the Google pronouncement about making in-app purchase capable apps display as non-free in the Play Store also affect messaging apps? Will the consumer and political backlash against children making unauthorized purchases limit the options here?

    2. BlairMacGregor

      The Jabber or Trillian of mobile messaging apps, essentially.

    3. Anne Libby

      like IFTTT recipes. If Mom, then text.

    4. Vasudev Ram

      >But, that is tough programming!I don’t think it’s all that tough, though it is non-trivial. This is already possible in some environments – I’m not talking about the ones mentioned by Fred, but other messaging apps. E.g. Gaim – now called Pidgin – IIRC, allows you to configure it with your accounts on various messaging services like Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, Hotmail, etc. Don’t remember right now whether it can channel messages transparently between them all, though. But tech-wise I don’t think it is that difficult – just have to build adapters (harder) or if all the service providers agree on a common protocol (easier). The reason why it doesn’t happen more, is due to vendors wanting lock-in, walled gardens, etc.Edited comment to mention Jabber, after seeing BlairMacGregor mention it in this thread:…Not sure of the details but I think that is what Pidgin uses.

  17. JimHirshfield


  18. JimHirshfield

    I see you left email off your list. How telling.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t think of email as messaging. Its more of a to do list in my life

      1. JimHirshfield

        That’s a good hint on how to write email subject lines… as if they’re to do items.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Bold move. How’s it going? How many employees do you have and is no-email scaling?

        1. Paul Mackenzie

          So I came to work with @thomasknoll:disqus a little over 3 months ago. And love the idea of no email. All our communication channels are open, so issues that people may use email to articulate are there for everyone to see.This helps with solving problems or asking questions, which you may be directing to one person, but others may actually have the solution (you just might not have seen) or can at least point you in the right direction.All this seems to work even better as I work remotely (7+ hour time difference) from the team. I know that my query/communication will be seen as soon as one of my colleagues start their day.Hope this helps, happy to answer any other questions 🙂

          1. JimHirshfield

            Cool. Even more impressive with you being remote.

  19. Guest

    1. awaldstein

      In the consumer biz, especially in the food/fashion/wellness sectors, if the world just had Instagram, Facebook–and aspirationally Twitter with a strong email core, you are golden.Golden that is if you can find the pulse of community on these cause the community is w/o a doubt there.

  20. William Mougayar

    There’s another factor at play – do we want to do more with these messaging Apps or just text?Some of them have advanced features like browsing inside messaging, rich sharing of content, group chats, location data, video, voice, screen shares, etc.To what extent are these additional features important or not?

    1. awaldstein

      I don’t think there are really graduated feature sets that matter much within single function sms aps. They are the feature that gets used.What’s Ap w/o media sharing isn’t What’s Ap.They win cause they nail one thing.

    2. JimHirshfield

      Context matters. And the advanced features, rich media, location, etc. all make the Yo app work. Or should I say, will further it’s relevance. For now, there’s enough context in a Yo msg if we’ve made plans and I’m at the venue waiting for you. This signal becomes richer when the app “knows” what venue I’m at when I Yo you. IOW, we don’t need to have made plans or spoken in a week… I just Yo you out of the blue and you then know I’m at Waldstein Wine Bar with Arnold and Fred, on our second glass of Zin…appetizers on the way.

      1. William Mougayar

        Yo Jim, have you used Secret?

        1. JimHirshfield


        2. franca condo

          would you agree that if we include secret in the same category as whatsapp and kik and line and wechat… then we have broadened the category to include just about everything and thats too broad.should we include disqus?should we include tumblr?skype included?are we talking about instant messaging here or any type of we include linkedin?do we include asana?do we include quora?do we include slack?these are all different categories to this general communications? social communications? business communications?how about the game communication system inside zynga?i think this thread is comparing too many categories of communications as one. apples to oranges.

    3. Vasudev Ram

      >There’s another factor at play – do we want to do more with these messaging Apps or just text?Good point. It made me realize that IRC has been programmable for years. Devs write IRC bots that can do useful things:…Heck, even Reddit has an AutoWikiBot:…If some of these messaging apps provided an API (some may already do, haven’t looked into it much), it could spark a lot of innovative development of more useful apps than just sending messages. Some ideas off the top of my head (some would require software/hardware integration at the other end): message your fridge to increase/decrease the temperature, your garage door to open when you near your house, etc.

  21. Oscar Jung

    I think we are overestimating the # of apps normal people use. But unless someone build a really cool message aggregator I dont see it consolidate. As someone said, I reply where I get a message and I write where I know people are avaliable. Back in ’07 I loved the Fring app – they brought together messenger, google talk, twitter & skype on my windows phone. I am actually surprised that we have not seen more innovation with filters for pictures and snapchat as the most innovative in 7 years. I think glasses or ways we interact with phones could open new opportunities, but in general apps that cater to our basic needs (look better, be fun/anonymous) will drive innovation…

  22. Brandon Burns

    I find this situation we’re in very annoying. When I have parties, I have to send out multiple invites on multiple platforms to make sure everyone is contacted — not just because some people I only have on, say, Facebook, but because even for people I have on multiple platforms, generally they’re better at checking one over the rest and you never know which one it is.I’d vote for consolidation in the future. Not just because of annoyances like these, but because we’ve seen these trends go back and forth in almost every sector. Social media (currently coming out of the Facebook consolidation), photo-specific (getting comfortable in the Instagram consolidation), music (in a heavily fragmented post-iTunes world), etc. Even in messaging, the early and mid 2000s were all about everything from AIM to MSN messenger and all the rest, and then SMS ruled, and now we’re back to multiple apps.Not enough options —> more options —-> too many options —> messy experience —-> consolidation of options —-> repeat.

    1. Drew Meyers

      My friends are still heavily focused on SMS. Since I’m now in Chile for 6 months, I’m trying to break that stranglehold and get them onto something else..but it hasn’t happened yet.

    2. Anne Libby

      A front end dashboard where you could enter your messages, having set up your friends communication preferences…that would be sweet.

      1. Alex Wolf

        Yes pleaseA women’s site by a friend abroad used my term “dashboard” and we were moving towards that.

      2. Toby Ruckert

        @annelibby:disqus Working on this at Unified Inbox – be great to have you on board as a beta tester.

        1. Anne Libby

          I would love to take a look at it.Caveat — I’m not a power user like some of the people here. My universe of folks I message with is pretty small and very sms heavy.

        2. christianbusch

          I’m definitely a power user – would be great to test the product. Hit me on twitter if you like

        3. thomasknoll


        4. Thilak Rao

          Wondering how you will solve this problem! Sign me for the beta!I’ve been dreaming of this for years.

    3. LE

      I find this situation we’re in very annoying. When I have parties, I have to send out multiple invites on multiple platforms to make sure everyone is contactedIn order to assess how annoying this is to “most” people I’m curious about one thing. Of the parties that you have a) how many do you have per year b) how many people come to a party and c) of the people that are invited how many hold their own parties?Here are my wild guesses:You hold 6 to 8 parties per year20 to 40 people per partyYou yourself get invited to about 6 to 8 parties per year.Somehow this doesn’t seem like a problem that most people have enough to get annoyed with it like you do? Thoughts?

      1. Brandon Burns

        You’re probably right that most people aren’t annoyed in the same way that I am, but they’re probably annoyed in other ways that generally occur with fragmented experiences. Which is why the consolidation-fragmentation loop exists.That said, I probably get invited to 6 to 8 parties per week (vs. per year). Half are regular (weekly or monthly) events sent to curated lists of people by event promoters (things like these:…, the other half are usually more personal invites from friends for birthdays, housewarmings, or just the random excuses for happy hour. I only bring this up because if I, alone, am receiving 300 – 400 invites for events in a given year, there are a lot of other young folks in urban environments experiencing the annoyances of a fragmented messaging environment; most likely the organizers / invite senders.

        1. LE

          Would say “of a particular age group in an urban environment” or perhaps “of a particular age group”. A “dink” dual income no kids.I’m guessing you aren’t married with kids?Also you didn’t indicate how many parties you are holding?That was, I thought, the reason for the annoyance you said “When I have parties, I have to send out multiple invites” ..

          1. Brandon Burns

            I brought up the number of things I’m invited to, rather than host, because it points out that there’s probably, aside from just me, a considerable number of people who are trying to wrangle others together via various messaging networks who would like a bit more efficiency in their process.But for the record, I’m your average 31 year old in Brooklyn — i.e. not married, no kids. And I probably organize a dinner party, poker night, happy hour or something like that once per month. Average number of attendees is probably 15-20, with maybe 2 or 3 bigger things in the year.

          2. LE

            I’m curious (part of my people research I’m not putting down what you are doing) when you are 31 and living in Brooklyn, and apparently having fun, how long in your mind do you see that as lasting for? (And what about your peer group?). Do you think about the future (getting married, having kids) or do you really kind of skip along and not think about it? And is that typical in that environment with your peers? I mean you realize that unless you will stay single forever the life you have now isn’t going to continue in perpetuity, right? Or even come close you’d be lucky to even be able to make any plans with friends and a family (other than Saturday night if you can get a babysitter).

          3. Brandon Burns

            I think the answer lies in the fact that we live in a time where 1/ more people live in urban environments, 2/ taking more time to “figure out what you want to do” is the norm, and 3/ there’s less social pressure to hit certain life milestones at certain ages.I recently read an article stating that the median age of a single person in Portland, OR is 31. I’m sure its higher in NYC. When everyone’s focused on finding their calling, usually via their profession, this is what happens. Versus the world that existed pre-my generation where getting a job right out of school and working up the ladder for years/decades, whether you liked it or not, was more prevalent.I have a friend in SF who just had her first child at 40, and if her body would have held out for later, she probably would have pushed it. I have another friend in Brooklyn who just had hers at 33, and has literally no other friends her age with children. I have another friend who last year moved with her husband, both 30, from Brooklyn to Nashville, which you would think would quickly turn into starting a family given the southern sensibility, but if you even mention babies to her she gets upset, quickly followed by a statement about how she has too much work to do and life to live. I think these situations are becoming more normal, or at least not so odd these days. Especially in me-first urban environments.Me, personally, career-related things have been the priority up until now. I haven’t built my life around “having fun”; its more of a side effect of being a young person living the work hard / play hard mantra (whether you’re single or not). That said, I’m inclined to transition into something more “balanced” in the near future. We’ll see how that pans out.

          4. LE

            (Thanks for the detail.)Let me snip this piece here out for special treatment:When everyone’s focused on finding their calling, usually via their profession, this is what happens. While that could be the case, I would suspect that what plays into this is the fun and comfort of the environment that you are in. What you are doing sounds like fun (even to me although it’s not my thing I can see how it is fun). Consequently you have less of a reason to get married and have kids. And you are in an environment which is teeming with attractive single women to boot! Not saying career doesn’t enter into it or part of it. But fun is fun. [1] Somewhat known also that many people are “perpetual” students in order to avoid real life. Similar concept.I’ve always had this theory that there are so many people that are single in NYC (of all ages) because there is so much energy and distractions that you can be single and not feel alone. In the suburbs or in a small town that would almost certainly not be the case.I have a friend in SF who just had her first child at 40, and if her body would have held out for later, she probably would have pushed it.Risk of birth defects rises greatly with age. I mean if you can’t have a kid early you can’t (haven’t met someone etc.) But not a good idea to put off childbirth.…Agree of course that people are having babies later for various reasons.Me, personally, career-related things have been the priority up until now. Entirely possible that the serendipity of your social setting will help you achieve both career success (who you meet) and relationship success (also who you meet in the social settings).Personally I found online dating to be a tremendous shortcut to relationship success to me it was the greatest thing ever and much more efficient than meeting people or dating referrals not even close actually.[1] You further explained the fun part in the rest of your comment of course.

          5. Brandon Burns

            To be fair, and more correct, I know tons of folks who have gotten married, or are in relationships clearly leading to marriage. But of the over 30 crowd, its definitely less than 50%. I’d guess 40%.

          6. Dean Bubley

            Interesting discussion. There definitely is an urban trend here.I’m a (single) Londoner in my 40s & most of my friends in their 20s, 30s & 40s spend most of their free time “doing stuff”, whether it’s parties or going to galleries or cultural events or travelling or whatever. Most are unmarried (although some are in couples) and virtually all are child-free. A fair proportion are in open relationships or are poly.Facebook,, assorted online communities and apps/messaging services such as Whatsapp are fundamental to a good social life. Smartphone penetration is probably >90% in this group.On the other hand, this is London, which is atypical and probably the centre of the universe of human activity (sorry NY), so distractions and opportunities proliferate. When one is tired of London, one is tired of life, so one gets married.

      2. Toby Ruckert

        There are many use cases other than parties. Try to reach your customer’s attention on their(!) preferred communication channel. Suppose you’re an ecommerce company and send out newsletters. As @fredwilson:disqus said, Email is more and more becoming a to do list. Chances are the newsletter won’t even make it on to the todo list and is probably ending up in the junk folder or otherwise being unsubscribed/discarded.Whether you’re organizing something (not just a party, but just have to get the attention of many), whether you need to warn people of an impending disaster or emergency, or you simply want to reach them with marketing copy on their preferred channel, there is definitely value in doing it from a central composer. (Disclaimer: I’m an investor at which acts as a middleware for the above)

    4. Chris Franco

      It sounds like the cross-portal messaging system that Ryan from The Office introduced (“WUPHF”) would actually serve a practical purpose for you. LOL.

      1. Nuria

        Maybe with interoperability between messaging APPs, there wouldn’t be so many problems, and users could have the device of their choice (not all messaging apps are developped for every OS)

    5. Keith Teare

      Check out Chat Center – people-centric chat identities (http app service with the ID as a URL). For example if you click here and chat with me – – I will get a notification on my iphone and be chatting back. No need for you to know which app i am in.

  23. Bart Stein

    Agree completely. I’ve been testing a new project called Sup ( that lets you ask for a quick burst of live and interactive video from your friends. We rely completely on notifications for the service to work (Albert actually provided some early feedback on the idea).

  24. Steffan Antonas

    I’d expect to see more fragmentation as well, though, we should expect winners in various categories for the problem each type of messaging app solves. WhatsApp solved the “rich media texting internationally for free” problem, Twitter DM bridges the public to semi-private gap, SnapChat tried to solve the “ephemeral message” problem etc. It makes sense that each new app that solves a new problem well will make it to our phones and that there wont be any true winners for a while.

  25. Terry J Leach

    Everyone has different channels of messaging and the reason is not just for features alone. Somestime s the choice of messaging products is the keep different “worlds” from colliding. I think the application if machine learning to messaging might produce an interesting product.

  26. jason wright


    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      will they all consolidate to something called “Human beings” OR would they like to remain in their pool is the question….I am reminded of a quote from i-Robot … “even robots left in dark stand in group and not alone”….so consolidation is in the order… but how many ??….only time will tell.

  27. Joseph

    Nice post Fred. I’d add to this that many ppl have/will have specialized “enterprise messaging channels” as in many cases, their job has security/compliance/workflow requirements. The most obvious example is HIPAA in healthcare…HIPAA-secure messaging is one of the faster growing products for Cureatr, a health IT here in NYC that I’m a cofounder of, but whether in finance/construction/education/military the need is there for specialized notifications & messaging. All that said, notification fatigue & what comes after messaging on these “mobile workflow platforms” are all very real questions/concerns. At Cureatr we have worked very hard to provide good status tools/integrate with LDAP/scheduling systems to modify notification profiles in as user-friendly of a way as possible, and are now starting to develop algorithms to help prioritize/risk stratify notifications (“smart notifications”) in the clinical setting, as it is clear that this is hugely valuable to our users and ultimately necessary. Anyway, very interesting topic, thanks for raising it.

    1. fredwilson

      Great point

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      I can understand HIPAA is a secure messaging system…because of regulatory constraints….and Military as well … because of secrecy and related….I am not able to comprehend why others (education, finance, construction, retailing etc.,) will take the pain of getting into special communication protocol? It is a pain to program and it is a pain to find people who could understand that programming and get the job done….like DICOM and other medical stuffs.

  28. Matthew Perle

    I agree that further fragmentation is likely. Benedict Evans’ recent post on unbundling innovation ( made some good points about this as well, in particular his metaphor describing Facebook’s new products as being ‘just another can of soda’. If they can’t figure out a way to create a deeper connection with users beyond photos and messaging, via payments or universal app login or something else, they’ll have a hard time maintaining their lead. I don’t think they can afford to buy every WhatsApp or Snapchat that comes along, and for a $175 billion dollar company that’s a tenuous position to be in.

    1. LE

      Can is a good analogy. The buy things so they can simply kick the can down the road. Always possible that one of those can’s might actually hit something of value.Problem is the things they are buying are ephemeral. This isn’t like GE buying some long established industrial company to continue to grow and get into new markets. What they are doing is trying to buy luck.Not to mention that a company like GE has an existing solid base of business. Not the case with Facebook hasn’t been around long enough to be in that class or anywhere near it.

  29. Emac

    If apps can become appealing enough to specific groups of people we care about then we will see further fragmentation. Twitter in my opinion serves a group (“people who don’t have my cell number”)that could be fragmented.

  30. Matt Zagaja

    Gary Vaynerchuk recently posted a new keynote talk to his YouTube channel where he partly addresses this by pointing out that marketers ruin everything:…I think that one of the reasons this is happening is because the marginal cost of adding a messenger is pretty low and as our existing channels get clogged with noise people find it easier to start fresh elsewhere than to reconfigure their existing channel. The pattern I see is that my peers will move from one to another and then if you contact them on the other channel it is more likely to be ignored.Also you forgot iMessage. 😉

  31. Glenn2001

    Hi Fred,Fragmentation is here to stay. Once upon a time, most home phones were black rotary types. Then came push buttons and choice of colors, and the slimline. Then design firms like Braun and Porsche turned the home phone into art statements. But the sound quality of phone calls, the network infrastructure, etc was slower to change and in some parts of the world has stayed much the same. Yet there are hundreds of home phone designs to choose from today.The same is proving true with messaging apps. Humans like choice and options. The physical mobile device we choose is something of a style choice, but for most once you make that choice you are locked-in for a while. Your mobile device choice becomes part of the fixed messaging infrastructure. Your “color” choice for the next few years can now be reflected in the messaging apps you choose, (as well as your choice of phone case :).The underlying emotions/feelings behind the messages we send — I love you, I miss you, I’m running late, Happy Birthday — are the same no matter what messaging app (or device) we choose as the vehicle. Some folks will be happy with the default app that came with their phone. But others clearly want choice.Users also appreciate apps that recognize differences in human relationships and interactions. Some messaging apps are better at this than others in the context of relationship of the participants, particular situation, or time. That’s why YO works.We are launching MessagePetz this summer for iPhone and iPad to bring families and friends closer together through easier sharing of love and affection.MessagePetz also has a one-bit component that recognizes the context of family relationships, so that with one symbol you can send many emotional words, even if you are a child who has yet to start reading. Or, as Robert Scoble pointed out to me, maybe as a tool to help him communicate better with his autistic son.Just as we like like choice in food, clothes, and other aspects of our lives, we will see choice continue with messaging apps, reflecting the needs and desires of consumers.

  32. LE

    My first reaction to this post is that it doesn’t really matter how you use it what matters is how most typical users or a curve of users do messaging.My guess is that most people don’t come anywhere close to what you are doing. I message almost entirely by SMS and the only exception was when my daughter was overseas and I used Viber.I guess the point is that you come in contact with many different groups so you have to have many different ways of communicating with them. I’d be really surprised to find out that that is typical (maybe it is but I don’t think it is). How many pots do most people have their hands in? Friends, Family, Work. So it seems like 3 would be a typical max and perhaps less.

    1. fredwilson

      I am curious why nobody responded to this comment with what they do. I am pretty sure my kids and my wife use as many messaging apps as I do

      1. Joseph

        Similarly to Fred I use:1) SMS w/family & some friends2) WhatsApp with int’l friends, a smattering of friends Stateside3) HipChat and Cureatr with colleagues/clients4) FitBit in app messaging with other a group of folks who I compete with on steps/working out

        1. LE

          I will pass Cureatr on to my wife looks like an interesting product.

        2. LE

          My wife replied back that they are planning on using and it’s similar to cureatr.

          1. Joseph

            We’re familiar with them. They offer non-healthcare specific secure messaging and primarily only do messaging. In addition to messaging, we offer a number of other tools all built specifically for providers (notifications/checklists/workflow automation). Where is your wife? Hospital? Private practice? I actually started Cureatr while was a resident at Mount Sinai. If she’s got a few, I’d love to chat w/her.

          2. LE

            She is in a hospital system with 3 or 4 hospitals. If you write to my email (hover over the icon with my name) I will pass your info to her.Don’t know whether she would want to discuss or not but will definitely ask her.

      2. LE

        Your kids and your wife are not my kids and my wife, or my neighbors kids and wife. (See “research intern” below).So I’d be curious also, but remember that people who comment on AVC are probably not representative of internet users. And people who comment are a subset of readers anyway. This would be a great job for an intern at AVC. Doing “feet on the street” research. I’m not talking about paraphrasing findings that others have done or just doing web searches). And not just NYC either. Gather data that gives you a edge in decision making. Could just be talking to people at Starbucks and in the local Duane Reede casually (not a stuffy “survey” or anything).

        1. Timothy Meade

          It’s like the supposed “post car” thing repeated on coastal sites and NPR. The people that write those stories should visit our part of the country every once in a while.

      3. mihirbhanot

        🙂 I was looking for those from people too.For me, these are the platforms I use on my phone for messaging. I do get frustrated sometimes with the number of places I have to look, but over-all, I prefer the almost automatic segmentation that the various platforms create and try to “herd” people into one or the other so that my primary method of communication with a distinct slice of my connections is limited to one platform.Whatsapp – For my family and some friends who I’m close to who are worldwide. Most annoying aspect is getting added to conversations as part of groups that I have no control over and finding hundreds or thousands of messages and pictures before blocking that group.Twitter – Posting and seeing updates from folks I follow. I find my feed really polluted at times though and am looking to fix this but I don’t want to unfollow folks. Love the recency on this but really dislike the UI/UX for the mobile app. As other’s have commented, there isn’t a better app than the native twitter iOS app that I’ve found yet so still using that. I almost never use DM on twitter though.SMS – phone, with people I don’t know very well or people who aren’t on the platforms above. Also for twitter updates from a very select few and surprisingly enough, for a bunch of work related conversations (locating people, sending a note that I’m running late, sending a quick notification about something important I’ve sent over email).AngelList – for all interactions with entrepreneurs, other angels, and interesting folks in tech. I use angellist messages on my iphone via the chrome browser, but it can be improved a LOT for this form factor.LinkedIn – For some interactions that are work related, taking intros to people not on AL, and responding to requests for intros from one connection to another.Skype – For video chat with friends not in the USA.Facetime – For video chat with friends/family IN the USA.Gmail – for more detailed conversations with people on AL, LinkedIn, and reading news/updates from various bloggers/tech people/blogs that I subscribe to. Also for reading and responding to notes from friends/family who are generally not tech savvy and/or above 50 (usually).Work email – For everything else related to work.Phew… that’s a lot more than I thought I would come up with when I started writing this.

      4. Ross Hill

        I find that the amount of channels varies quite a lot by country, for example in Hong Kong they seem to have 2-3 apps while in Indonesia they have 8-9 options (and navigate by notification). For me in Australia:Line – for my girlfriendSnapchat – for my brotherSMS – for my parentsCotap – for workSwarm – for spontaneous meetups with friendsTwitter / Facebook / LinkedIn for people who don’t have my number

  33. NICCAI

    Like most thinks these days, Context is King. Communication is no different. Some conversations happen more naturally alongside content, others in another app or medium, and for others timing is everything.Further fragmentation is likely, but I expect we will have innovation around managing notifications and shifting conversations.

  34. Mathieu Gosselin

    Great to hear that. We will have something coming that way very soon 😉

  35. Steve Lerner

    To me, the “notifications channel” includes behavior we set for incoming SMS and phone calls. Collectively that is how we are notified. To me, ringing my phone is my priority means of being notified with SMS second and then other notifications. Individual messaging is by preference, mine and the person I am communicating with. For example, I might speak one language with one person and another with a difference person. Same goes for the style of my communication – formal and long messages or quick and to the point – each with different people I know. So messaging with apps or placing a phone call or sending an SMS message to someone I know is usually based on mutual preference.Sending messages, to individuals is a different animal than messaging groups. That difference expands when messaging groups of people we know as opposed to groups of people we don’t know. The difference here is having contact information for the people we want in the group we need to message. With very large groups we don’t have contact information and sometimes even in smaller groups sending broadcast phone or text messages to people is a challenge due to individual preferences, such as the apps we use and how we want to be reached.Then there are broadcasts to people who follow us, on whatever medium. It’s all or nothing, without context, and much is lost in the stream or newsfeed or whatever you call it. Notifications on the receiving end are at the preference of the recipient, depending on the app, and, if an option, may require a bit of knowledge to set up.So we use email to message groups. Generational issues aside, it gets buried and marked as spam. No one expects to receive timely group messaging in email. Sure, there are ways to set up notifications from email messages, but that is tedious considering selection criteria, and then there is an issue of reading a long email on a phone.I have been doing much work on this “contextual group messaging” and, at the risk of self promotion, have a new app that addresses these “group communication with individual notification preference” issues in a novel way. It’s called YakStack ( and with some social features we are in the process of adding, can address so much of what has been mentioned through these comments. While it is, yes, one more app, there is an aspect to consolidation that can come from it. Would be interested in your thoughts.

  36. Dave Pinsen

    You’ve got a separate app just for texting your son? No chance you can get him to switch to one of the others? Presumably, he’s already using Kik or SMS to communicate with his mother and sisters.

  37. Techman

    I use SMS, phone calls, Kik, Skype, Facebook, and (of course) IRC for communicating with my friends and family. Out of all of this, I really just prefer phone, Kik, and my IRC network.

  38. John Revay

    HummApps I use as follows:1. SMS ( iMessager) – for most friends and family2. Viber, Whatsapp & Skype – International Customers (Asia & India)3. Kik for when I want to send a txt to Fred 🙂

  39. John Revay

    Good comment from a post from one or my good friends from the UK @alexbilbieNotification Overload…

  40. Semil Shah

    Has been and will continue to be fragmented, no incentive or pressure to consolidate, and given the size of the mobile market both today and in the future, it’s big enough to support many winners.

  41. narendra

    Not much different from 10 years ago: email, AIM, Y!Messenger, MSN Messenger, Jabber, IRC, and voice.

  42. Ben Kinnard

    Trying to dig up information in an old message is annoying when you talk to the same people through multiple apps – did they send me the address for the party on skype/whatsapp/facebook/text message etc?An app or something that can trawl through all of them would be useful – maybe the deep linking stuff being talked about at the moment could do that?

  43. Michael Chou

    As a Taiwanese, generally I use LINE to talk to local friends, Whatsapp for my US/European friends, Wechat for my China friends. FB message across all 3 types of people.I don’t see consolidation either. Messaging is communication, thus it’s group-specific. I actually see each messaging growing into platform for more full-fledge services, like e-commerce and co-working, each for the specific kind of people that use them.For example LINE has become an entertaining center in Asia, providing games and stickers for commuting pleasure. WeChat has become a mobile payment/mobile investment center for e-commerce and media distribution in China. Maybe Yo or Secret is good for drug dealing (kidding)(kind of)?Messaging is not the add-on, it’s the core.

  44. usahakecil

    Notwithstanding the ridicule/hyperbole regarding Yo, the concept of binary messaging also needs to be thrown into the mix jenis bisnis rumahan . A very interesting development which has increasing use cases.

  45. Dean Bubley

    Yes, fragmentation will continue in messaging. It will also extend to voice and video communications (largely courtesy of WebRTC as a tech enabler).Some points:1) Online communications preferences are becoming personal, just as they are in real life. Of my friends, family & colleagues, everyone is different “in real life”. Some like to chat over a coffee, some over a pint. Some people I’m just on nodding acquaintance with, others I know will talk my ear off for an hour. Some I only meet “in context” at conferences or at parties. Desktop and mobile forms of messaging, voice calls etc are mirroring that. You’ll find different people in different contexts, for different sorts of conversations2) A lot of messaging will be contextual, rather than standalone. Facebook IM is “social messaging”. Online help-desk IM chat is for solving specific problems for a given website. LinkedIn messages are business-related. There are hundreds of contexts for sending/receiving messages and some will be in-app, others standalone. For in-app messaging (or voice) some will use 3rd party APIs & some will be self-developed.3) Feature sets are highly varied & different things resonate with different people – ephemerality, anonymity, ubiquity, security, “coolness”, exclusivity, cuteness, professional and many other adjectives apply. Most of these *cannot* interoperate – and indeed, the ones that are differentiated are the one with unique, not commodity, features.4) A lot of people find all this unproblematic, especially people who are widely “social” and meet many new people in many contexts. It’s probably harder for people who have a small number of friends/family/colleagues and are used to a world where everyone just uses the phone or maybe SMS.5) There are plenty of regional and demographic difference in all of this.And as I mentioned, this is all about to happen with voice and video communications as well.Dean BubleyDisruptive Analysis

  46. Toby Ruckert

    The market will consolidate further and further until a point where the pain in the market is big enough for somebody to (again) unify it all. There is actually a cycle in unifying communications which repeats every 5 years or so.Short term fragmentation may be the trend because of the personal likes and dislikes people have depending on the UX/UI, feature set and conversations they can have with others on certain communication channels. Gender, location, culture and social aspects also play an important role.Long term however innovation is greatly impaired and certain inventions can’t even take place without consolidation, be it a smarter TV, a communicative dashboard in your car’s windscreen, the Internet of Things and so on. In fact, the consolidation has already started by converging (and copying/pasting) features between the different apps, be it @mentions, #hashtags, emojis and so on.My bet: fragmentation lasts 18 months. Unification is a matter of course.

  47. Tomas Mendoza

    I totally agree with Fred. Fragmentation will continue as long as start ups continue to innovate in the field.In my personal life messengers are fragmented due two primary reasons:1) Features – Snapchat offers functionalities WhatsApp doesn’t2) Social circles – my family is on WhatsApp and my acquaintances are on FacebookWe recently launched lenshare for iPhone, a messenger were “moments” take the center stage as supposed to “groups” or “individuals”.The App introduces a technological innovation in the smartphone world, which leapfrogs the sharing of simple photos and text. When you “lenshare” a moment, the App creates an object called “Phideo,” which essentially captures a moment’s pictures, sounds and stories all in one beautiful layout.I’d love to hear your thoughts – [email protected]

  48. Jeff Judge

    I agree, I just don’t see consolidation happening here given notification center and alerts have cleared the way, and things like presence detection made things even easier. There’s also really no reason for consolidation – it doesn’t provide you with any benefits.For example, my team has moved nearly all of our email and IM conversations into Slack given that it does such a nice job handling conversations and giving the ability to seamlessly carry the conversation between devices. My extended family primarily chats via text, while DM is used with friends and connections via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As my kids get older I can totally see using different message apps to chat with them.

  49. franca condo

    in social networking there were 20 or so players.slowly they died off.myspace luckily found a corporate paid a billion dollars for bebo and shut it just shut down orkut which controlled the brazil market for 10 years.facebook wiped out all these players.only in closed countries are there other social networks today.there too is now a shakeout of instant messengers.some will die while others are being, icq (aol), and msn messenger are already dead.and others will take some years as they run out of their venture capital.kik tried to create a system of multi-media cardssharing different types of media as you Mr. Wilson suggest.they quickly gave that up and implemented a full HTML5 browser within their instant messenger client and its not working either.nobody is paying to play games on (already owned by the phone platform itself), stickers, music… are not significant enough features to create or differentiate an instant messenger from those already in existence today.adding video (vine) to twitter did not make any different to twitter usage or user numbers and all the other messengers just add the feature right after.only in the rarest of cases has a new feature been powerful enough to create a new messenger. in the case of snapchat it was disappearing photos.most developers significantly underestimate how significant a new feature or platform shift must be to win users. instagram came to power because facebook was sleeping when the Apple/Android mobile platform came to be (a hardware shift that happens every 20 years). facebook erred in creating an HTML5 solution instead of a native-code-app. mark zuckerberg admitted to his huge error and luckily for facebook it was able to buy its way out of the problem by buying instagram.we are in consolidation mode. i expect to see kik bought real soon. i dont expect to see new ones succeed going forward. if such happened it would be super super rare.

  50. dwanguard

    It all depends on point of view one takes. If you analyse what is present trend, you will conclude in this line of thought as you already did, especially if you are within the business you are.But if you start to question validity of that approach than more options are possible.For instance I made a solution for small service that is mostly constructed of repetitive tasks.In that effort I created certain unique features and mechanics that proved to have much larger impact.At that moment my point of view changed dramatically as I was able to question and answer what previously would not even think to.Likewise, imagine contemplating payment systems before block chain. Certain problems would still exist no matter what you do. So any new solution would be just a slight change, no considerable impact.But if you offer considerable overall improvement and make solution highly attractive for the masses you are introducing new point of view for everybody.Which leads us to the actual point of of your article. Everybody uses what most of their surrounding is using.

  51. Si Chen

    There are also people who think it’s normal to have a stack of calling cards for each type of long distance call they want to make, but most of us just want to pick up one phone to make all our calls.Ultimately we will all want one place for all our messaging, or else it’ll just become a less preferred medium over time.

  52. RacerRick

    iMessage on my mac has been really helpful. I’d love to have some sort of program on PC that taps into each messaging service API and consolidates my messages in one place.also… hi Fred. I haven’t commented in a very long time.

  53. Andre

    Any noticeable pattern on the segmentation of messaging platform choice (e.g. age, personality, etc.)?

  54. Walt French

    Hmmm… five different messaging channels? Surely 99% of users have fewer.Fragmentation may continue — and neither Apple nor Google seem to have much incentive to heavy-handedly consolidate them — but most users won’t want to remember which app to fire up for which contact, nor deal with little idiosyncrasies in how they work.Those should pressure people towards fewer apps for any given circle of friends, the sort of network effect that you’ve been forecasting to drive Apple back into nichedom. Will both happen, or neither? I think you’d need more differentiation between chat apps—as there is between iOS and Android—for a large number to persist.

  55. Adam Griff

    Further fragmentation because different services are connected to different networks. It goes beyond features but is related to it.We want to keep our various intersecting circles separate because they relate to different parts of our selves. The universal singular identity forced by Facebook was always a problem.

  56. Gregory Clark

    I’m right smack in the middle of the baby-boom generation; where growing up was one black phone on the kitchen wall. I hope this doesn’t date me out of this conversation. I’ve followed and used everything “tech” since it hit the street all in hopes the devices, apps, methods would enhance rather than detract from my interaction with others. Today we have so many methods of communication coming at us demanding our response. Sometimes its infuriating. This is what i refer to as my receive side. Then there is the initiate side. Know that I’ve read many of the posts before posting my comment. So let me jump in.FOR ME, I have to separate the initiate side from the receive side; it keeps it simpler. I do not subscribe to several communication platforms because: 1) there are just too many, and 2) responding becomes the event rather than what I’m wanting to do: in this case say a party. I’m not willing [anymore] and don’t have time to keep up with everyone’s “initiate” choice; which becomes my receive source. Limiting? Yes, that’s the point. Since we’re still in this evolving science of trying to bond, which was never a science with one black phone, all my friends know how I “initiate” and how I “receive”, which I’m trying desperately to be the same. Now about the topic: parties.Questions and Comments to Brandon: 1| Are your invites different for different people or are you sending the same exact invite to all?2| Are you requesting or do you need an RSVP?3| Are the invites more ‘announcements’ or true ‘invites?’ 4| I separate these because an ‘invite’ evokes a truer sense of wanting to be with an individual.5| Yet there are occasions where it’s really a get-together: true bonding is not an expectation.6| Separating your intent or need is what defines what you’re actually sending out.7| “Generally” how many invitees respond digitally versus the phone?9| Defining what you’re truly wanting from the individuals on your ‘invitation list’ defines what you’ll receive digitally and at the event. Remember: not everyone ‘responds’ just because you’ve ‘initiated’ something called [in your mind] an ‘invitation’ and technology never transmits tone.10] I’ve already though way too much about this yet truly want to offer suggestions.To tip my hand a bit, I select what I want to do and with whom I want to do it. This then defines whether I’m doing an invitation, an announcement, or nothing digitally. It also defines which “initiator” I’m going to use and sometimes the good ‘ole telephone is the best choice if I want to maintain that relationship. Never forget that the telephone has a tremendous purpose; they are not just cameras or data centers rivaling the Library of Congress. Sometimes, I have found [the hard way], digital communication with some people just does – not – work and my relationship suffers as a result.I think we get so bogged down on the mode of initiation and our own expectations of a response type we complicate or even forget what it is we want to achieve; and most of all with whom. In the end, these processes we have deemed ‘perfect’ in various situations have left us less fulfilled: the people with whom we want to spend time the most time end up on the outskirts all of our own, non-intentional, doings.This also leads into something I’ve always valued which is: my “inner” and my “outer” circle. But this is a topic for another thread, yet bears heavily on this discussion.Those are my thoughts for now and would love input.Gregory

  57. olguindanilo

    viber: call my parents and friends in Bolivia, whatsapp chat and group chat, fb chat to talk to family and lost random friends, hangouts for some android friends, imessage most of my US friends, skype for work. Kik for my hustling on buying on craiglist . snapchat to send random stupid photos and unoficial instagramwow thats a lot without knowing

  58. OurielOhayon

    my analysis is that 1 app = 1 type of social group/sub group eg 1 for family 1 for biz 1 for friends 1 for super friends ….and that s why we ll see more rather than less although all messaging apps have the ability to create groups. 1 app = 1 indentity = DNA of the group

  59. JimHirshfield


  60. William Mougayar


  61. JimHirshfield


  62. Matt Zagaja

    Co-sign. However Facetime Audio is amazing when it works.

  63. Anne Libby

    And those are rapidly disappearing, being replaced with the less reliable alternative.

  64. William Mougayar

    Download link?

  65. JimHirshfield

    You broke the one word chain.

  66. William Mougayar


  67. fredwilson

    I use three of them pretty regularly – Soundcloud, Songza, And Rdio

  68. John Revay

    Surprised you are not using Spotify.I have accounts w/ the same three you listed…I wanted to standardize and use Rdio..however I am too cheap to pony up the $ 10/month so I can listen to Rdio on Sonos.

  69. JimHirshfield