The recently announced partnership of Uber and Facebook Messenger is a natural development in Messenger’s strategy to become more than just a chat app.
As it showed with the launch of Messenger Platform, this app is keen to expand its functionality beyond simple peer-to-peer communication and take advantage of the healthy revenue streams that can be opened by facilitating brand-consumer engagement.
As yet, it’s only 8% of Messenger users around the world who are also regular Uber passengers. But the advantages to tapping into this audience are obvious. In the USA, for example, 1 in 20 16-34s are now regular Uber users (rising to about 1 in 10 among this demographic who live in urban areas). In fact, in the USA 70% of Uber app users are aged 16-34. What’s more, from an income perspective it’s notable that US Uber users are 50% more likely than the average US internet user to be from the top income quartile.
So while this partnership could entice an important audience of Uber users towards Facebook Messenger, the opportunities for Uber are also clear. Outside of China, 37% of the global internet population are Facebook Messenger users, putting this platform at the top spot in the chat app marketplace (with second place taken by Facebook-owned WhatsApp). So far, Uber has been able to gather a young and affluent user base – coveted by many of its competitors – but Messenger could bring Uber a truly mainstream customer base.
But beyond the particular benefits of this agreement for both Messenger and Uber, the importance of this move lies in how it confirms Messenger’s ambition to truly become a service-facilitating platform, rather than just a chat app. So far, Messenger’s initiatives may not have made a big impact – only 1 in 12 US Messenger users are regularly sending money via the platform, for example – but the potential of a platform like Messenger is clear if we glance at the evolution of Asian chat apps like WeChat and LINE.
These apps allow their users to shop online, order food, make restaurant reservations and, yes, order a taxi, all without leaving the app. It’s these apps that give a glimpse into the future of Messenger. Uber’s just the first big name service that will come to Facebook Messenger.