Messaging is local

by Volker Weber


First row of my home screen. These are the messaging apps I use most often. Yours may be completely different and that is both normal and troubling. A few days ago I asked a 17 y/o from New Jersey, what she uses, and she said Messages. And a lot of Snapchat. I talked to a Chinese girl at Mensa the other day and for her it was Wechat. Wechat only. While WhatsApp is almost ubiquitous here, none of my American friends seem to use it. And other than email, chat apps are walled gardens.

Walled gardens benefit the vendor, but they are a risky game. BBM for instance, once known as BlackBerry Messenger, was built to promote BlackBerrys. Either you have one and you are in, or you don't and then you are out. Very late, way too late, BlackBerry opened up BBM to Android and iOS. But the users were already gone, and as much as BlackBerry likes to pretend otherwise, BBM is dead.

iOS Messages still works well in the US, where Apple commands a big market share. And it helps that it falls back to SMS texts when the other party does not have an iPhone. Apple said at the WWDC keynote that Messages is the most used app on iPhone. And as such, I dismissed the iMessage on Android rumor as wishful thinking. Apple has no interest in making the Android platform better. And unlike Facebook their business is selling devices.

What does not belong? FaceTime, because it is not a messaging app. It probably should be part of Messages. What is missing? Facebook Messenger. I have an account on Facebook, but I am not an active user. So far they have not ruined WhatsApp, but I trust they eventually will. Messengers are not making money, and today they are loss leaders to grab territory. Everybody is envious of Asian messaging platforms that have turned into commerce platforms.

vowe's magic flying circus is mostly Apple territory. iPhone, iPad, Watch, MacBook, iMac. Messages arrive on all devices at the same time. So I am using Messages with all other Apple users. I use WhatsApp for all group chats and people outside the Apple continent. Since it only works on one device and cannot be remote controlled from the iPad, it is less convenient. FaceTime keeps me connected to home when traveling. And Snapchat? That is only a phase.

How about you?


WhatsApp is my favourite tool for communicating with others. I used telegram pretty long but switched to WhatsApp finally. I don't use Apple messenger, since it is not available on all platforms. Normal messages rarely. There are some people, who don't have a smartphone though. Snapchat: I once in a while open it and look whats happening (also following you) but nothing more.

I use Facetime quite regularly to connect my mother with my daughter. Since she lives in Frankfurt and Istanbul, Facetime is a great way to let her communicate with my daughter.

Still: Mail is the tool, which you can use anytime, anywhere and with whom you want to.

Alper Iseri, 2016-07-05

SMS (disabled the iMessage thing as I am using same account on multiple devices and then it just wouldn't work properly - some devices got the message, others not, and none did when trying to sms one of my other devices), Skype, Whatsapp.

Florian Vogler, 2016-07-05

Messages for Apple users and SE based people (text flat). WhatsApp for all other people. Sometimes Slack (and WhatsApp) for laptop based group chat.

Federico Hernandez, 2016-07-05

Personally I use email, iMessage and Facetime everywhere. These tools are available on all my personal devices (phone, watch, laptop, desktop - shame not tv) I have tried most/all the competitors but I really can't be fussed to mix and match to suit individuals or groups or situations. That's what I use and that's that.

For work I am forced to use a combination of email, Skype and Google Hangouts. In the main these work well. I like this separation between personal and business life. Neither can interfere with the other.

For the girls in my life (1 x Wife, 2 x Daughters) All three are huge Snapchat and Instagram and WhatsApp users (I think in that order), and of course iMessage/FaceTime. None use email or facebook.

Ian Bradbury, 2016-07-05

Messages for friends/familiy with Apple devices (I love the fact that I can answer messages while being on my Mac), WhatsApp for everything else (I was reluctant to using it prior to their big encryption push). Remember the days where we used Skype for chat? I hardly do.

Markus Dierker, 2016-07-05

@Markus: Skype is still installed on my computers. But I also don't use it anymore. Don't know, why I haven't deleted it until now.

Alper Iseri, 2016-07-05

Much the same as you, Volker. Though as a heavy iPad user (and now full time on iPad Pro), I have never understood the attraction of WhatsApp... One device restriction, linked to a phone number? Seems to me that this is a model that just doesn't scale today, and really won't in the future. But their subscriber numbers suggest that most people don't care about such limitations!

As an aside, I've just returned to using Skype on a regular basis after a year or so away, and whilst apps like Slack are still eating their lunch, I was pleasantly surprised at how it has improved since the last time I was there...

Stuart McIntyre , 2016-07-05

Facebook messenger for the lads, Whatsapp for the ladies.

Oliver Regelmann, 2016-07-05

@Stuart: The standard WhatsApp user has one device - a phone - for his communication. They don't see it as a limitation. Personally I don't really use it, but anyone else around me does.

René Winkelmeyer, 2016-07-05

Having family in Cuba, imo appears to be big in Latin America, so it's WhatsApp, imo and a little bit of Fb messenger

Frank Quednau , 2016-07-05

Everything vowe said, except to add that we use Facebook Messenger a lot in business for recruiting. It seems the best way to contact under-25s in eastern Europe these days.

Scott Hsnson, 2016-07-05

I had to install Telegram to keep up with my climbing sport friends. They have these weird arguments around not trusting one IT company but the other without ever having a look on what the company does...
Mainly I use iMessage and WhatsApp.

I have a Snapchat account but no one else around me, so that is kinda pointless.

Patrick Bohr, 2016-07-05

Whatsapp and Telegram on my WP mobile and on the Mac using the Mac desktop apps for them. Plus Skype on the Mac for some international phone calls and video calls. I would use my VoIP phones more for international calls, but often have problems getting connected, so tend to use Skype more.

Most of my friends don't have Macs, so Facetime isn't useful for video calls. No interest in using Facebook Messenger and none of my friends use it either - FB is already too interested in its users, they don't need encouraging.

John Keys, 2016-07-05

SMS and WhatsApp. FB Messenger for ppl who start a chat from there. And a bit of Twitter DM from time to time.

Thomas Cloer, 2016-07-05

Signal only - else SMS. I managed to convince most of my friends to install Singal along Telegram/Whatsapp.

Christoph Krieger, 2016-07-05

As a sms and BBM user on my Android BlackBerry...

Why BBM is better than others:

+ Video Chat
+ Clearer Voice Chat
+ Private Messages
+ Retract Messages
+ UX superior
+ Uses a Pin (not phone number)
+ Custom Pins and Sticker Club subscriptions
+ Person Preference

Horia Stanescu, 2016-07-05

Heavy EMail user, as it works asynchronously always and everywhere, Messages and Facetime (mostly Audio) for friends and family, Skype with a few users due to cross platform capabilites, Hangouts for gaming. Dormant Jabber account, no FB or Wazzap.

Jörg Hermann, 2016-07-05

It's interesting to see what people use. for me:

work: office365 stuff (email, yammer, office groups, skype for biz), skype group chats, slack chats for large group think.

personal: messages, skype, fb messenger (a lot with local friends), whatsapp for international friends, a bit of google IM/hangouts & yahoo IM via trillian, and bbm. I also have kakaotalk and kik installed for one friend each. I tend to go where the other person is to chat vs trying to convince them to use what I use.

i have facetime and snapchat and never use them.

whatsapp got a lot more use once I could use it on my laptop via their windows app.

John Head, 2016-07-05

Only Whatsapp (friends and family), as i use several phones i have set up 2 accounts and made groups with every friend and family member with both accounts. Business: Email and some times colleagues send me skype (I hate the gui, also does not work with the company proxy). Whatsapp is nearly perfect, apart from the limitation to 1 device.

Christian Just, 2016-07-05

For me: Facebook Messenger (90% friends and family, 10% work), Skype (90% work, 10% friends and family), regular text messaging, annoyingly some Twitter DMs.

Alan Lepofsky, 2016-07-05

Opps, and Facetime (100% family)

Alan Lepofsky, 2016-07-05

Hangout to chat with my wife, because hangout runs everywhere (phone, tablet, personal computer) and we can use a proper, small client like pidgin, if we stick to text messaging only.

WhatsApp to chat with other people, and to share images with my wife. I refused to use it a long time, but there was a point in time, where nearly everybody around me used it. Still refusing seemed pointless.

A long time ago, I used ICQ a lot. But somehow they managed to mess up mobile completely for many years. I don't care any more, my account is still configured in pidgin. Deactivated.

I don't have a Facebook account, so no Facebook messenger.

Heiko Wolf, 2016-07-05

WhatsUp and Skype (text)on smartphone, Skype (videochat) on my iPad and... ICQ (very rarely) on computer

Pavel Zheltobryukhov, 2016-07-05

Viber only with all my Fijian friends and families (after they abandoned WhatsApp, I had to follow)

Friedrich Holstein, 2016-07-06

SMS: Never. Although it's reliable it's also old.

WhatsApp for almost anyone and Facebook Messenger for a few friends and groups. The BIG advantage of Messenger is that it can be used on any device. In the browser, I just use the small chat popups instead of

iMessage? For one or two friends in Germany and the USA. Even most iPhone users I know use WhatsApp. It's probably imagination, but feedback is quicker in WhatsApp.

Thomas Meyer, 2016-07-06

WhatsApp for family and friends and 'special interest' groups - people with whom I connect via one interest or another; diving, cycling, amateur radio.

Telegram - I love as I can message at my Mac, PC and all mobile platforms, but sadly not as widely used as I need to make it the first choice.

SMS - flat, dull, boring but reliable. Always dependable. My wife is more likely to respond to an SMS message than anything else - despite being suitably equipped on al devices :)

John Ash, 2016-07-07

Professional use:
-SMS - for few dedicated people and only specific topics / reasons. Old-fashioned, but reliable and generating more awareness than anything else.
- E-mail.

Private use:
- WhatsApp. Starts to replace e-mail more and more. I'd like to have this service MSISDN-agnostic.
- Apple Messages/SMS in rare cases.
- E-Mail.

Sven Bühler, 2016-07-08

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