Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday launched APIs to allow businesses to take advantage of its Messenger and Live video streaming platforms to reach out to customers.
Over the next five years, Facebook sees Messenger as a growth engine. Messenger was the fastest-growing app in the US in the last year, ahead of even Facebook itself. It passed 900 million monthly active users, with Messenger and WhatsApp users combined sending 60 billion messages per day. By comparison, SMS saw 20 billion messages at its peak, Zuckerberg said.
To expand Messenger's reach, Facebook is launching the Messenger Platform, which will allow businesses to communicate using chatbots – automated software that interacts with people using chat. (See Facebook to Announce Messenger 'Chatbots' for Business – Report.)
"I've never met anyone who likes calling a business," Zuckerberg said. "And nobody wants to install a new app for every service and business they interact with." People should be able to message business the way they would a friend, without requiring all their attention, like a phone call, and without requiring downloading an app.
Zuckerberg demonstrated CNN delivering customized headlines over Messenger, and he also showed how he could order flowers using 1-800-Flowers.
"I find this ironic: Now, to order from 1-800-Flowers, you never have to call 1-800-Flowers again," Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg also touted Facebook's Live streaming video platform, enabling sharing with small groups or large audiences. He described how a woman used Live to stream her wedding to her mother, who was sick in the hospital and unable to attend, Zuckerberg said. "Her mother and a friend across the country could not only see it but could be there with them."
Celebrities, such as Vin Diesel, can use Live to connect with a global audience – sometimes reaching larger numbers than they do even with conventional TV, Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg announced Facebook is opening a live API to stream video to Facebook Live from any device. He demonstrated a drone using Facebook Live APIs to stream video from an onboard camera, which he said will fly around the conference streaming live video.
— Mitch Wagner, , West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading.