The Rise of the home-grown messenger

(Edited Transcript)

Hello everybody! Thank you for taking the time to watch this short video. Today I want to talk about home grown messenger applications. As you might have followed in the news, there is this recent company, a large FMCG company based out of India, which launched their messenger application. Unfortunately it had to be taken off the play store due to certain issues, but I think that takes nothing away from the fact that an effort has been made to provide an ‘Indian’ alternative to messaging apps.

We all know that we probably use WhatsApp and other messaging applications more than we use traditional sms and calling. More and more people not only use these platforms to share text messages, but also to do voice calls, and increasingly video and group video calls.

I want to share 3 main points today as to why it is important and it is critical, that we have home grown apps especially in the messaging space, coming out of India.

  1. Product Development – The very first point I would like to say is that, building out a home grown messenger is vindication of the fact that we can build amazing products. As you know, it is easy to build a ‘CRUD’ app –  Create, Read, Update, Delete kind of apps, where they are generally text driven, some data being saved in a database, some manipulation, and throwing out some data, typically in English.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   While this has been the kind of applications that people have been building for a decade now, the future or the next billion users, definitely are going to come from voice and video enabled platforms. So firstly, it is a great statement in product development, if we can build such messenger applications out of India.
  2. Security and Privacy – As you know the next war, if there is going to be one, is not going to be fought on the battleground, or in cities. Clearly, the next wars are going to be proxy wars, or wars on information, or misinformation.  It is extremely critical that India has access to its own data, the kind of quality and conversations that happen on these messaging platforms, and more importantly, when you have a business model that is driven around advertising, it is very obvious that you will be used as the product. Things that you share, who you are, what you buy, what you talk about, whom you talk to, all become critical in targeting ads, whether through that platform, or through their sister concerns.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     So it is critical that we have a secure messaging application, much like a telephone, where there was no real opportunity to target ads based on conversations. But since this is completely based on the internet, or cloud based voice and video communication , we become the target to a lot of ads that infringe on our privacy. So the moment you have a non-advertising based model, where the focus really is  to just connect people to be able to communicate, I think we have a lot more secure ground on which to operate. 
  3. Localization – The third, which I think is most important, especially when it comes to a country like India, where less than 10% of our population knows English, it is critical that we have a localised element to our apps. Some of my relatives, and maybe your relatives, prefer peaking in their native languages, or their mother tongue, and these are only possible with voice and video solutions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We also see a bigger opportunity here. Commerce, in the future is not going to be done on purely text driven platforms or websites, where you can see an image and see some description, and you go ahead and and add that product to cart. These will happen in a way that replicate real life, much like this, where you can have a conversation with somebody at the other end, without fear that the conversation is used for other purposes.

To sum up, I think it is extremely important that we have more apps, more messaging apps coming out of India, and the next few years are going to be defined by what Indians are building around this space.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this, on whether we really need an Indian messenger, and whether we have the wherewithal to build such solutions from India. Thank you!