Apple may have just lost the messenger wars! And enterprise along with it.

Apple just refuses to do what needs to be done. Even when a pandemic hits. And the costs may be just too high this time.

Communication wars started with Google Talk. Then Google destroyed the platform and has been reeling every since. Without much success if I may add. Though they did use the pandemic wave to get a sprint on with Google Meet, just like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

The Pandemic Opportunity

Pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown has been a great leveller, and an opportune time for tech to shine. With everyone locked inside their homes, the only way left to still keep life (and business) going was to communicate and transact effectively and securely. From the communications standpoint, the requirements were simple:

  • An app that was all encompassing – messaging, video and potentially payments
  • Worked across all platforms
  • Is free (or atleast has a free option)

So how did the tech giants respond:

  • Zoom led the way. New kid on the block and it was everywhere, from boardrooms to bedrooms, until its security flaws started showing up, and slowing them down a bit.
  • Microsoft, doubled down on its Teams app. Hitherto, I hadn‘t known of many organizations preferring Teams over say a WebEx or off late Zoom, but suddenly, especially the organizations with O365 subcriptions, Teams is the new WebEx – thanks to its ‘all in one’ nature, its intricate link with office apps such as Outlook, Calendar, Planner etc. Microsoft cemented its position as an enterprise leader, yet again. It also received some unexpected help from its competitor.
  • Google too, which in the past 10 years has shown conflicting tendencies with its messenger apps, finally managed to put out an all encompassing ‘Meets’ app.
  • In the meantime, Whatsapp and Wechat continued to rule the person2person communications, family and friends groups etc. Whatsapp increased its conferencing limits so you can now invite your extended family to the party.

Apple did… Nothing!

Though I must add. They did make face masks and the Covid-19 tracking API.

Despite having one of the best messaging platforms out there and one of the best Video chat apps in the world, Apple may have just foregone its biggest opportunity at beating Whatsapp, Zoom and Teams at the same time.

What should Apple have done

Its fairly simple. Gone are the days when Video and Messaging apps were separate. We now live in an era of Super Apps. They dont do one thing or the other. They do everything including shopping, payments, being your digital id, order food, hail rides and the works.

Apple needs its own WeChat. However, maybe thats too much too soon. So lets start simple:

  1. Merge iMessages and Facetime into one single App, with the ability to ‘Apple Pay’;
  2. Make this new app cross-platform, truly cross-platform including browser based;
  3. Separate out the SMS part of iMessage into its own app. Call it ‘Spam’!

What is Apple losing by not doing this?

A billion.. or maybe 3 billion consumers, and all the potential revenue opportunities that come with that. Additionally, perhaps their last chance at anything ‘enterprise’.

Lets hope that when they finally decide to join the party, they are not confronted with a status board at the front door which says ‘Party Over’.

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