Facebook Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky on interoperability progress

Stan Chudnovsky from Facebook

Horacio Villalobos | Corbis | Getty Images

The takeover of Facebook’s interoperability between Messenger and Instagram is above expectations, according to the managing director who runs the messenger business.

“We are exceeding our expectations in terms of the speed and the number of upgrades,” said Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook boss of Messenger, in an interview.

In particular, the company announced to CNBC that more than 60% of eligible users on Instagram have updated to the new experience, which allows them to exchange messages with people on Messenger. This is the first time that Facebook has provided a number on the acceptance rate of the update.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced plans in March 2019 to enable cross-app messaging between Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. From a Facebook perspective, allowing messages to be exchanged between apps removes one point of friction – the idea that not everyone knows which app to use – which increases the usage of messages. However, Facebook doesn’t make a lot of money today from advertising on its messaging apps.

Facebook began introducing cross-app communication between Messenger and Instagram users in September 2020, but is still a long way from integrating WhatsApp into the mix. Before this happens, Facebook has to build end-to-end encryption into Messenger, as WhatsApp already has this function. According to a Facebook spokeswoman, this update won’t be completed until well into 2022.

Facebook no longer divides usage numbers for each app individually, but in 2017 the company reported that Messenger had more than 1.3 billion monthly users, in 2018 it reported that Instagram had over 1 billion, and in 2018 In 2020 WhatsApp had more than 2 billion users.

The introduction of Instagram and Messenger has boosted Chudnovsky and his team’s confidence in building interoperability.

“The fact that people are upgrading at the speed they are upgrading on Instagram suggests that our thesis was correct and that people are definitely betting on convenience,” said Chudnovsky.

According to a study by Facebook, 70% of Americans use three or more messaging apps. A third of these users have a hard time remembering where certain conversation threads are, according to Facebook. For this reason, the company is expanding cross-app communication.

“A large percentage of them really don’t know where to go to speak to a particular person,” he said. “As a result, you just send fewer messages.”

Facebook’s Messenger service could serve more users if Apple opens up its iOS ecosystem to allow iPhone users to choose their default messaging apps, Chudnovsky said.

“When it comes to messaging apps, we are very picky from the point of view that users should be able to choose which particular app is the default app on their phone so that their preference is actually respected,” he said.

Currently, iPhone users need to use the company’s iMessage app to text their friends. This is in contrast to Google’s Android operating system, which allows users to set other messaging services, including Facebook’s Messenger, as the default app for sending text messages.

IPhone users who prefer Messenger to Apple’s iMessage app “are in a disadvantaged position because they cannot change that standard and have to stick to what Apple demands of them,” Chudnovsky said.

“We don’t necessarily think it should be, but we try to play within the ecosystem rules and we have to respect all the rules that the platforms impose on us, even though we think that puts people in a disadvantaged position “said he said.

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