The future of chat-based content is games and video


Palringo featured in Forbes over the weekend – a great piece on the forms that human communication will take in the future.

Telephone content in all of its forms is the epitome of Heraclitus’ maxim that everything is flux, and there is nothing more fluid than humans using channels and platforms to communicate with each other.

Since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, our relations with each other have been transformed to such a point that the land-based telephone has ceased to be a form of communication, more like a hub for internet connectivity and one that is not used for calls.

In the emerging world, landlines are just as irrelevant, with cellphone penetration sweeping through African and Asian populations faster than any virus with mobile apps providing the ballast for association.

Globally, WhatsApp and SnapChat are latest kings of the universe, adding new users to such a degree that they will need occupants of other planets to sign up to keep up the pace. What took more than a century to happen with the telephone is now happening on a monthly scale. The roadmap to the Singularity seems assured.

So, what’s next on this accelerated fragmentation of platforms? Who will be the next companies to augment human-to-human contact and what will be the content that connects everybody together?

Messaging- and chat-based applications would be a natural route for such communication and one where content such as games and video will proliferate. Presently, the ideas are a little ahead of the technology, but ultimately that has never been a problem.

In the games arena, a UK company Palringo is attempting to create a new model of bringing together games and mobile social networks for its audiences. It does this by approaching the current dichotomy in a different way.

Instead of the current model, where games developers bolt on messaging functions to their games, Palringo builds games on top of a platform and engages this users by allowing them to create and join interest groups on Palringo.

The company claims that it now has more than 28 million subscribers with more than 350,000 groups, some of which have more than 2,000 members. While it has some way to go to match the WhatsApp and SnapChat numbers, there is momentum behind its customer acquisition.

“In general, there is an obvious shift towards richer content experiences such as animated stickers, video and voice. We are doing all this as well, but mainly focusing on broadening our offer of games.

“We see that games in our social context increase user activity, spend and loyalty. Gaming and social networking are two of the biggest categories of mobile engagement. We believe in combining those two,” says Magnus Alm, CMO Palringo.

While the technology lags in messaging-meets-games, the interest is there and with Palringo expected to announce shortly a new UI, it won’t be long before these games become more sophisticated. Moreover, with 350,000 groups engaged, there will not be any shortage of feedback or focus groups to help that process.

Another chat-based application that has huge potential is video. A Indian-UK company, Reel claims to have forced compression rates down to such an extent that 20-second videos can be sent across its video messaging application.

Users can send them to their friends on a loop that the user sets before it automatically deletes. The company launched the app on Android last month with an iOS version to follow and claims rapid take-up of the service. With the Indian mobile market being 75% skewed towards Android, this is a sensible strategy.

“We have seen a seismic shift in messaging behaviour, with SMS messages giving way to IM services like Whatsapp. Then came photo messaging, led by apps like SnapChat. The emergence of video messaging is not surprising, as it is the natural evolution from photo and text messaging.

“Technological advancement and lower barriers to owning smartphones that have seen huge increases in new smartphone users, combined with the rise of 3G & 4G coverage, particularly in markets such as Asia will drive video messaging as the next, and quite possibly most exciting, phase of messaging,” says Adam Baker, Founder and CEO of Reel.

Where games and video lead the way, there are other very interesting companies such as Popcorn, Talko, Ethan that are taking messaging to another level. Another evolution may be real-time streaming via messaging-based apps.

Whatever happens next, the words of Heraclitus and the work of Alexander Graham Bell continue to resound. Where they go next is moot, even exciting, but companies such as Palringo and Reel may be the start of the next important wave.

You can read the original article which appeared in Forbes here.

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