Spinning off Facebook Messenger into a separate service made sense, as did acquiring WhatsApp, but why in the world did Facebook do both? The reason for that is actually pretty simple: Facebook wanted to take two different approaches to instant messaging. Whereas WhatsApp is supposed to be a pure messaging app, Facebook Messenger is supposed to be more like Asian messaging apps, such as Line and WeChat, which are the digital equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. By that I mean they allow users to do things like buy movies tickets and order food without having to leave the app. To further that goal, the company has joined forces to Uber to allow Messenger users to order rides from within the app.
Uber wants to be everywhere. Not just physically in every city, but also in your digital life — and especially where you’re making plans. Now, Uber has come to Facebook Messenger. This isn’t just a link encouraging Facebook users to grab a ride to their next event, like you’ll see in Google Maps, but a way to call an Uber ride without even opening the app. “This is where 700 million people around the world are coordinating plans with their loved ones or meeting friends for dinner or drinks on the weekend. And all those conversations are happening in Messenger,” said Rahul Bijor, Uber’s head of API and strategic partnerships, at a demonstration at its headquarters. “We want Uber to play a part in bringing those people together in the real world.” For Facebook, group messaging is on the rise, said Seth Rosenberg, a product manager for Messenger. Most people are already using Facebook Messenger to organize a happy hour or go out to the movies, but once the plans are set, the experience within Messenger stops. “Making that plan is really just the first step, and we want to help people actually follow through with that plan and meet up with their friends in real life,” Rosenberg said.