One might think that Chats are old news. We had IRC chats in 90s, feature-heavy web-chats in 00s, video chats in early 10s. And now we see chat craze happening all over again! The iOS 10 is almost all about the Messages app updates. Google brings Allo and Assistant. Facebook Messenger is getting more and attention, while the core app is stale. What is going on?
You are being tricked. That's right, the Chats are not new. What we see now is not just another generation of Chat apps. It's the transformation of the entire social communication industry.
FAST is not enough anymore. Everyone expects LIVE.
Quite simply Chats are serving as a disguise medium to make people use social software with instant updates. "Live" updates, if you will.
While it is entirely possible to re-build websites to work on sockets, or whatever technology enables live updates, it is not that easy to re-train people's perception and break long-standing conventions. Developers have to start with something people understand. Chats are perfect, as everyone expects them to behave as instant communication tools.
The trend is akin to Trojan Horse strategy, offering everyone "simple" chat apps, but you quickly find that they are full of extras - upload photos, send stickers, share links, update status, search for friends, create group discussions, create "profiles", and finally - install chat extensions. Sounds familiar?
Noticed how Apple has suddenly become a prominent player in social? Because Messages. They don't even need to make their own Facebook clone anymore.
Tech giants compete for users attention. They want us to be glued to their apps all day, preferably without interruption. To achieve that a red notification bubble is not enough anymore. They want constant engagement.
(putting on the Nostradamus hat)
Over the next 3-4 years Chat apps and social websites/apps will converge into one. They will start dropping "chat" monikers and will be simply [enter brand-name] apps again. Only they would work like chats on steroids.
Then, in another 3-4 years, as a painfully predictable leap of "evolution" we will be seeing a new generation of simply-chat apps, on a whole new level of engagement. Perhaps something that pops-up right into your visual space without even looking at any device.