Why messengers are the future?
From time to time, one hears the wailing of those who claim that humanity is flying down the slope of history. People degrade, do not bother to remember something, relying on Google, do not read books, but scroll through the Instagram feed, and do not know how to communicate live, constantly spending time in instant messengers and social networks. I absolutely disagree with this.
The world is in the process of constant development towards complication and subsequent simplification of this complication, which makes it easy to use the fruits of labor. And this applies to everything from evolutionary processes (it’s hard to imagine how much effort nature took to get us out of the water onto land or teach us to run, and how easily we flippers now to catch a departing bus) and ending with our success in improving the quality life. It's no secret that in the 21st century the average life expectancy has grown like never before, which, by the way, caused significant economic problems around the world: paying pensions is extremely expensive, and no one is going to die. And in general, now humanity is able to think, invent, create, run, jump, swim, lift weights much better than ever before in history. We are at the peak of our physical and intellectual form:
You need to be aware of this and learn to accept changes, and not try to stop them. But there will always be those who believe that it used to be better. Let me give you a few examples that today seem frankly absurd. Here is an article from the New York Times, April 1904. According to observations, most people are more comfortable holding the handset of the newly invented telephone to the left ear. According to the newspaper, this predicted the emergence of a race of left-eared people who would have auditory imbalance.
About 50 years before the invasion of the "left-eared" race of people, at the end of the summer of 1858, there were no less heated discussions about the development of such technology as the telegraph. The same New York Times was worried that the news received via telegraph was "superficial, lifeless, too fast to be true." Mail from Europe arrives in just 10 days, and who, one wonders, needs these snippets of phrases in 10 minutes?
But let's look even deeper. Even after almost a century since the beginning of the era of printing, it was perceived by some negatively. The Swiss polymath Konrad Gessner believed that typography would lead to information overload. He even approached several monarchs with a proposal to restrict the book trade in order to save the population from the harmful abundance of books. He came to these conclusions while compiling the Bibliotheca Universalis, a complete catalog of books available by the middle of the 16th century. During the first century of printing, about 10,000 different books were published, with an average of 100 new books a year. It seems to me that Mr. Gessner would feel bad if he saw what is happening now, when only Russia, the USA, China, Great Britain and Germany published more than a billion books in 2013.
Having reached the origins, we will meet Socrates. The great philosopher was extremely negative about writing. The ability to take notes, in his opinion, leads to the fact that people become lazy and do not want to use memory. And how wonderful it was when everything was passed from mouth to mouth.
Despite all the obstacles, progress is inexorable, and now we are at a moment when once again not only the way we consume information and communications, but also the way we conduct the economy is changing. The new approach - complication is based on three pillars: universality, artificial intelligence, payments and cryptocurrencies. And today, the best way to manage these whales is through instant messengers, which give their users maximum flexibility.
Let's take a closer look at the whales. First whale:
Bots meet you in all more or less advanced messengers. Live conversational communication is the most natural type of communication for a person. Dreams of artificial intelligence capable of doing this have been on the minds of people since the days of ancient Greece. The first robot with artificial intelligence was Talos.
Created at the behest of Zeus, Talos was a winged bronze giant with molten steel flowing instead of blood. History is silent about the reasons, but for some reason the giant possessed all gender characteristics. The gods did not save bronze when casting. Talos Newly Arrived Imported (Uk) Extremely Clean Baby Bath has been peacefully protecting Crete from enemies for many years, sinking enemy ships and keeping watch. And then a woman came, distracted him with her stories about the severity of life and helped break this greatest achievement of ancient civilization.
In reality, artificial intelligence has achieved the ability to issue a coherent dialogue and self-learning only now. So far, things are not going as smoothly as we would like. We all remember the bot from Microsoft, which users quickly taught to look at life correctly.
But the further development of bots will lead to a dramatic shift in the economy, destroying many jobs. All companies seek to cut costs.
For example, call centers. Most of the client's questions can already be solved by the bot. Instead of call centers, there will be only small groups of specialists solving really complex problems. The desire to save billions will push companies to sponsor and develop artificial intelligence. Bots already know how to order food delivery, call a taxi, get directions and find flights, transfer money, tell news or make a selection of information on a given topic.
Payments and cryptocurrencies
The second whale is related to finances. The current banking system is unnecessarily complex, conservative and unable to respond to the rapid changes in the digital economy. Despite the stagnation in the global economy, raising funds for development is still expensive and difficult. The answer was the creation of ICO, or Initial Coin Offering, that is, the initial placement of coins-tokens. ICO is, in fact, fundraising for the creation of a project. The user transfers real funds, receiving electronic tokens in return. It turns out that there is no need to conduct traditional trips to investors or share copyrights with them, enter into complex agreements with investment banks, which, after a long study of the project, will carry out the placement of bonds.
Now digital economy entrepreneurs have the opportunity to receive funds without intermediaries. People are interested in participating in this, since the entry threshold is minimal, and if the idea works, then, according to the laws of the market, the token will rise in price. And cryptocurrencies are now growing often groundlessly, and their growth is spurred only by greed.
January 1, 2017, bitcoins were at $999 apiece, you can sell them today for $4,321, that is, if you buy $10,000, you get $43,000. Compared to these returns, the 19th century gold rush is just a sandbox game. The most recent example is the Kik messenger, popular among American users. A couple of days ago, thanks to the ICO, the owners increased their wealth by selling tokens for $100 million.
Also, thanks to the use of various cryptographic protocols and general decentralization, messengers have become one of the last quiet bays where you can hide from the eyes of Big Brother. And where there is no regulator, you can calmly solve money issues: collect, launder, transfer and, most importantly, not pay taxes. For example, according to an RBC investigation, Telegram is actively used for money laundering. The messenger has various channels and bots that allow you to order food, taxis, book tickets and cafes at below market prices. The bot shows the user a range of services, and then gives a link to the appropriate channel, where there will already be live communication with the seller of the service and payment via PayPal.
“Gray” providers buy the service at full price and then resell it at a discount. Some of the money is lost, but this is not so important. By the way, there is a good series about money laundering. I recommend watching it, it's called "Ozark".
One of the main features of cryptocurrencies, as well as messengers, is anonymity and decentralization. It turns out that the state knows about the existence of money, but cannot tax it or at least withdraw the servers where the treasured tokens are stored. That is why governments, feeling unfairly deceived and deprived, come out against it with a united front. First China, and then South Korea, realizing how much money is whizzing by, banned ICOs and frantically began regulatory activity. The US Internal Revenue Service is shifting hesitantly from one foot to the other.
With time, of course, this area of the Internet will be regulated. Many argue what cryptocurrencies are - the next evolutionary stage in the development of money, a gold mine or another multi-billion dollar bubble.
In my opinion, we are in a period when another complication appears with sin in half, which in the future will become as easy and natural as buying ice cream in a store for cash. The main advantages of instant messengers are that they are free and widespread due to the ability to work on almost any hardware and software. But there are too many of them, and in the future, of course, there will be consolidation. In the same way that Visa, MasterCard, UnionPay exist in the payment market, a few of the largest ones will remain among the messengers. But the main idea is that it is messengers that will help to adapt the idea among the masses that in order to pay, you do not need an intermediary in the face of a bank - anyone who has access to the Internet can receive and accept payments, receive and give loans.
And here we are waiting for the third and most important whale, responsible for versatility and comprehensiveness.
One app for everything
Apple had a "There is an app for that" ad for the iPhone 3GS that showed that there was an app for every desire the user had.
This approach is rapidly becoming obsolete, as a bunch of applications for all occasions is quite inconvenient: no one likes endless screens of icons on a smartphone, which is easy to get lost in, and the constant lack of memory is pretty annoying. Yes, and different technical characteristics of devices sometimes do not allow you to use the product the way the developer intended it. The first to almost completely solve this problem is the Chinese messenger WeChat.
Initially, WeChat, like similar applications, was a chat platform. Now, in the perception of many Chinese, this is practically the central hub of the Internet. Judge for yourself. In the messenger, you can chat or look for new acquaintances (just shake your phone and the program will find those who are nearby and don’t mind making friends), order a taxi, make an appointment with a doctor, book a table in a cafe, buy movie or theater tickets, transfer money, study online shopping using the built-in WeChat Pay wallet, pay bills and taxes, play online games and even coffee in a cafe.
While many messengers are struggling with how to monetize their apps, WeChat made $1.8 billion in revenue in 2015 alone. The messenger, according to open data, has 889 million active users in the spring of 2017. The population of China is 1.4 billion people, that is, more than 63% of the population uses the application. Of course, it is worth mentioning that much of WeChat's success was made possible by the benevolence of the state, in exchange for having full access to all user information. About 30% of the messenger audience regularly use the e-commerce features of the program. Now it's a snowball effect. Stores and brands see buying activity and open their virtual offices, promote promotional offers. Also, WeChat, having such an incredible completeness of data about its users, becomes extremely attractive to advertisers. By the way, as I understand it, WeChat targeted advertising is one of the best in the world. For each user there is a so-called "Moment Page", where he sees personalized offers and is very happy with them. When BMW made its first campaign to a limited test audience, many users who did not receive such advertising were outraged. Have you ever seen people get upset because they didn't see an ad? Usually it's the other way around, and sometimes people see ads where there aren't any and scream that it's terrible. Not surprisingly, David Marcus, who is in charge of Facebook Messenger, in The Economist called the example of WeChat inspiring and said that Facebook really wants to do the same.
Veon from Beeline appeared in Russia not so long ago, which seems to intend to take the position of an entertainment hub where you can chat, read articles, watch movies without leaving the application. Whether the project will succeed or not is not yet clear, but the idea is good and timely, however, due to the specific advertising campaign, not everyone understands it yet. Separately, I would like to praise Beeline for the fact that he did not close only on his subscribers, but “rolled out” the application for everyone.
Advanced messengers, among other things, become a platform for communication and information consumption. The most striking example in Russia in this sense is Telegram. The application already has thousands of channels and chats on various topics. Here is a channel and a chat of the same name, where marketers discuss professional activities, here is a channel with selections about finance, here is about fiction. Next door is a channel where terrorists from the banned ISIS association exchange pictures and excitedly discuss plans to conquer the world. The messenger can pull and convert information from web pages, so to read any article, there is no need to go to the browser. Pavel Durov even seems to be joking that Telegram will be able to swallow the Internet.
While discussing the article, I heard the opinion that instant messengers cannot replace everything in the world and will eventually give way to other programs. As, for example, at one time SMS gave way to instant messengers. I adhere to the idea that in the end, after consolidation, instant messengers will evolve into single universal platforms and will embody the entire Internet for many.
I invite you to express your opinion. Let's discuss. Tell us what messengers you use, what you value in them. Are you mentally ready to start using the messenger as a single personal portal where you can pay bills, pay for purchases, communicate, and consume content (articles, movies, music)? Do you perceive cryptocurrencies as the future of money, or do you think that world currencies, which are not backed by anything but an honest word, are our everything? If you believe in the ruble, then do not be shy, tell us. Write!