Communication has suffered huge changes in the last decades. Nowadays we have many many choices on how to share information with others according to different needs and situations. People uses different electronic channels of communications such as e-mail, chats or SMS. And there is a new proposal on how they will interact with each other.
Of course there are many more examples, but I am just mention those because those are the new Facebook Messages service targets… until now. Facebook has had messages service since long time ago, and its use has been increasing a lot. You can find more numbers here. However, it looks like the environment is changing and Facebook has found the need of more agile communication and having all the time lines of that communication in the same place. Therefore, that is their proposal, having those three communication channels linked to their messages service. In that way we will have all our conversations together in one place composing a meaningful story line with one common access point, of course, the Facebook page.
So… how does it fit in the current scenario? What is what Facebook Messages is trying to do? The image below is a representation of how the current communication systems and the new Facebook messages (FBm) are related. The radar is divided by Sector (more general), Arena, Industry and Market (more specific). and the alternatives to the FBm are located according to a quadrant and how close they are to the centre within that quadrant. I will post more details on how the framework works during the next days for those who are not familiar with this concept.
Sector in which Facebook Messages is: Communication
The sector of communication is wide and includes all ways to communicate something to others. Newspapers and magazines communicate news and entertainment, just as books are to transmit and storage stories or information. There is as well more personal communication such as letters or face-to-face conversations. FBm does not aim to substitute these actors, but in some way offers an alternative to them when (1) users share bits of their content through the FBm or (2) it is more convenient than the traditional approaches.
Arena in which Facebook Messages competes: Electronic Communication
Moving forward to a more specific Arena within the Communication Sector, FBm competes against other electronic communication tools. This Arena contains all the technological channels such as mobiles, land lines, TV, radio and e-books to mention some. The relationship to these actors is similar than with those mentioned in the sector, but the competition is a bit more direct. Phone and mobiles would be the technological version of Face-to-Face conversation and TV and Radio would be the technological version of entertainment and news sharing.
Industry to which Facebook Messages belongs: On Line Communication
Within the Electronic Communication Arena, the Industry to which FBm belongs is on-line communication. All the advantages of web 2.0 and collaboration, that make the on-line technologies so useful, are present in this Industry. FBm is an on-line service by definition which offers an alternative to the on line versions of magazines and newspapers just as it does with the hard copy versions. Blogs and Twitter are other ways to share information in a more massive way, FBm is also an alternative to them and other current tools such as mass emails or Social Network when users post and share personal information or advertisement.
Market in which Facebook Messages owns (or will own) share: Direct Communication
The closest alternatives to FBm are those that share the market with it. In this quadrant we will find those services which FBm will try to substitute and are the direct competitors to beat. Mail, SMS and Chat will be merged in the service and therefore FBm will try to capture as much market share as possible. The service will be direct communication between users competing directly with other Social Network messages, twitter direct messages and even video conference services such a skype, specially if they include this feature in the future. As the use of Smartphones increase, the threat to the popular BlackBerry Messenger will increase accordingly and could even have the potential of take it our of the market if BBm does not offer something extra. That could happen because there are more people owning a Facebook, mail and chats accounts than those BlackBerry equipments.
This framework helps us to understand, from the most general to the most specific level, who are the competitors and what is the name of the game in those levels. Once we have this, we can start thinking about what are the Critical Success Factors expected to win in that game. But that, will be part of an other post.