Facebook Messenger app passes 800m users and David Marcus predicts decline of SMS and text messaging

Lynsey Barber
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Messenger will be developed more this year (Source: Getty)

Facebook is predicting the decline of SMS in 2016 as it revealed its Messenger app has passed the 800m user milestone.

David Marcus, the vice president of Facebook messaging products said there is still "much more opportunity ahead" and the app, which launched in March 2014, was still in its early days.

The figures mean Messenger has picked up roughly half the number of users who use Facebook each month.

Talking about the app's future in 2016, he said now that people are no longer tied to phone numbers, SMS, the humble text message is becoming less relevant.

"Think about it …. SMS and texting came to the fore in the time of flip phones. Now, many of us can do so much more on our phones; we went from just making phone calls and sending basic text-only messages to having computers in our pockets. And just like the flip phone is disappearing, old communication styles are disappearing too."

Facebook will also start working on increasing the number of "brand interactions" in Messenger threads, because "threads are the new apps".

"At Messenger we’re thinking about how we can help you interact with businesses or services to buy items (and then buy more again), order rides, purchase airline tickets, and talk to customer service in truly frictionless and delightful ways. It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity (no need to ever login), rather than downloading apps that you’ll never use again and jumping around from one app to another."

There'll be be more personalisation, though he did not explain exactly how. "We’re looking at ways for you to build your own space to communicate just the way you want to in your own style and tone - think of it like your very own social handshake," he said.

It introduced a feature that lets users order an Uber from within Messenger, in December.

Addressing the progress of its AI powered digital assistant, Marcus said it was still "very, very, early days" but there would be more innovative developments in this area in 2016. "The growing AI capabilities are bringing unparalleled convenience to simple, every day tasks like booking a restaurant, sending flowers, and making plans."

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