FB Announces Group Video Chats for Messenger

FB has announced group video chats in Messenger, the latest addition to the ever-expanding messaging app.

Messenger has group audio calls & one-on-one video chats, so the addition of group video makes sense – in fact, according to FB it’s “the most requested Messenger feature ever”. And given the popularity of video calls on the platform and the use-case highlighted by other group video chat tools, such as Houseparty, it seemed like a no-brainer that FB would eventually add group video capacity also.

Your new Messenger video chats can include up to 6 people at a time, while up to 50 people can listen in to the conversation & participate. You’ll be able to send text, stickers, emoji & even wear 3D masks during the chat.

The timing of the launch is aspired at maximizing interest in a new tool as people look to connect over the holidays, which will no doubt help give the selection a boost. And as noiticed, given the popularity of Houseparty, which focusses on live group video conversation, there is clearly demand there – though it is not exactly great news for Houseparty itself.

Party’s Over?

Back in April 2015, a start-up called “Meerkat” took SXSW by storm, sparking the next big trend of live-streaming from your mobile device. Pretty soon, Meerkat had competition from Twitter-owned Periscope & things just got harder and harder from there till Meerkat could no longer full.

The Meerkat team went back to the drawing board, analyzing what worked & what did not and a few months later they released a new live-streaming app, that time focussed n group chats. This app, called Houseparty, has proven to be very popular – it now has 1.3 million daily users.

Video Chats for Messenger

Good for Meerkat, they’ve been able to tap into another trend & develop another popular app. But there is still the problem of bigger players lurking.

As we noiticed in our post about Houseparty’s launch:

“…if a significant enough number of customers show interest in multi-person live-streaming by using Houseparty, how long do you think it will be before Facebook introduces the same option?”

As it turns out, that concern was valid, as FB has most definitely noted Houseparty’s rise.

For instance, when Instagram launched their new live-streaming fuinctionality , Instagram Live product manager Shilp Sarkar noted:

“The use case that caught our attention was everyone just hanging out on live, particularly young people. After school, they jump on a livestream & hang out. That use of live

is especially interesting to us.”

That is the audience that Houseparty is reaching – and now, with FB bringing group video chats into Messenger, that can spell significant trouble for Houseparty moving forward.

It is great that Houseparty has 1.3 million daily users – but Messenger has more than a billion active users, with a large amount of them using the app daily.

Competitive Dominance

This raises another key question about our evolving social media landscape – as the bigger players get bigger, how can newer apps & tools viably compete?

Snapchat has proven that it can be done, that smaller players with fewer resources could still challenge the big names. But even then, FB’s slowly working to crush them, copying the app’s key features & re-sharing them with their much larger audience. Eventually, FB will, most-likely, beat out Snapchat & any other players, whether they so want to, which makes it extremely daunting for some newer platform looking to gain traction.

This is especially true on live-streaming – live-streaming is costly to run & difficult to scale. You need a lot of resources can build a stable live-stream platform. Group streaming app Blab could not do it, and as noted, Meerkat checked out. Eventually, we might end up with only Google, through YouTube, Facebook as the 2 live-stream options, as even Twitter will likely struggle as the selection gains popularity and momentum.

It is an interesting paradigm to consider – every time you see a new app, something like Peach, for instance, it’s worth considering what is popular about it, what is resonating with audiences. Then, follow how long it takes for those exact same functionalities to have in the bigger platform offerings.


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