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Facebook Messenger Uses APIs to Attract Business Partners

By Casey Houser
March 30, 2016

Facebook Messenger is growing so rapidly that it recently reached a usage base of 800 million users per month. TMC’s report on this issue revealed that the mobile app has become one of the largest WebRTC-based applications in the world. This week, that claim moved to new heights with a separate reveal of just how ingrained the Messenger app has become in users’ lives.

Engadget reported the similar figure of 800 million users. It also cited a Pew study, which found that 97 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to send text messages at least one a week and that 35 percent of smartphone owners use a branded messaging app – Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, and the like.

Furthermore, it pointed out that users can use the Facebook Messenger app to request an Uber or Lyft ticket or share a song through Spotify. Users can do this all without leaving the app, and soon they may have the ability to book a flight or pay for retail goods.

They will not need to switch apps or leave their current conversations in the dark. Everything will remain contained within the Facebook app for easy access.

Engadget’s main question about this development – as good as it could be for consumers – is why Facebook would want to complicate its own program by adding tons of features. The primary answer is that businesses know the link between Messenger and its fan base. Facebook is a global social media platform that has attracted billions of users. For companies like Lyft, that enormous grounding looks like a sea of new customers just waiting to be found.

Uber, Lyft, Spotify, and others can work inside the existing ecosystem to allow Facebook logins to work as usernames in their own systems. User John Doe on Facebook simply needs to log into his social media account once to gain access to any number of other services he favors. For users, the process becomes much easier than having to log in to multiple services through multiple apps. One tap does all the magic.

How is this possible? Application programming interfaces, APIs, make it possible. The Facebook APIs join with those from it various business partners to allow login information to propagate from one system to another. It allows users to book a ride, find a flight, and continue speaking to their friends from the same app in their phones. TMC has taken advantage of the usefulness of APIs and built an entire convention, All About the API, that dedicates its speakers and booths to that concept.

Facebook and the other giants of the tech and communications world listed above are not alone in their use of APIs. Many startups have taken to building their own interfaces to better reach partners and attract customers. All such issues will be on display at the event, and it probably will not take long for someone to use their Messenger to live chat its contents.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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