Facebook Claims The Future As It Builds On A Chinese Blueprint

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Messenger lets users call Uber cars.

Two titans: Facebook Inc said it is testing a service that will allow users of its Messenger app to hail Uber rides directly from the app, without leaving a conversation or downloading the ride-hailing app. ‘With the ability to request, track and pay for a ride in Messenger, we’re making transportation as simple as sending a message,’ Facebook product manager Seth Rosenberg said. Instead of the relatively simple programs that Americans use to send messages and photos to friends, popular Asian services like WeChat have become digital Swiss Army knives: People can use them to hail a car, shop for games, buy virtual stickers to send to friends and even shop for physical goods. — Reuters SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook announced an alliance with Uber that lets people summon cars from the ride sharing service using the Messenger smartphone application. But recently, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has begun to emulate its Asian rivals, making its Messenger service — with 700 million users — more of an all-purpose platform.

Uber is the first partner for the Transportation on Messenger service, which will be available to select users in locations where Uber operates in the United States, Facebook said in a blog post. Still, the internet giant is playing catch up with Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd’s messaging app WeChat, which has offered similar services much earlier. Facebook earlier this year began testing a Messenger app virtual assistant that the leading social network said goes beyond artificial intelligence programs already on the market. It’s actually bringing a lot of utility to the platform.” For much of the last year, Facebook has been gradually trying to make Messenger more than a communications app.

UberRUSH launch in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco in October with a mission to “get customers pretty much anything in minutes,” according to a post at the company’s website. In March, it began allowing developers to write small apps that could be included in Messenger, although most of them are variations on emojis and selfies. Uber’s ridesharing service has made it one of the world’s largest startups, operating in dozens of countries, but has faced regulatory hurdles in many areas and protests from established taxi operators. Over the next few days, Facebook will be updating its app so that existing Uber users can connect their accounts to Messenger and request rides from inside conversations in the app. Made by Tencent, a Chinese gaming and e-commerce conglomerate, WeChat bundles many services, including games and shopping, and new ones are being added every day.

Group messages are a main attraction, as are recorded voice messages that can be sent like texts, and many companies use the service for business discussions. Instead, their strategy has been to make the number of people who use the app as large as possible and make money on extra services, like games or stickers. More than 650 million people regularly use WeChat every month, and the service averages $7 in annual revenue per user on its network, according to estimates from the research firm Nomura. Scott Nelson, head of North America for Viber, a chat service owned by Japanese retail giant Rakuten, said every messaging service was trying to find its own formula.

Nelson said messaging apps must find the right balance between simplicity and providing the features that users want — something that may vary by country. “You’ve got to be light and nimble,” he said. “That being said, there is a place for a few things here and there that make the end user’s life easier.” “They can add taxis, they can add banks,” he said.

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