This is an excerpt from The Message, Smooch’s biweekly newsletter about the messaging industry, chatbots and conversational commerce. Subscribe to get the next edition delivered straight to your inbox.
Apple Business Chat Goes to Cannes
The Cannes Lions advertising festival came and went this week and amidst the awards ceremonies, celebrity sightings and free-flowing rosé, one of the most hotly-anticipated messaging platforms made its European debut.
ABC, baby you and me ♫
Still in beta, Apple Business Chat made a rare appearance in Cannes as the official concierge app for the ad industry event.
Manned by a mix of bots and human agents, Cannes Lions Concierge helped the festival’s 16,000-plus attendees get information about event happenings, restaurant options, after-parties and more, straight from their Apple devices.
The service was powered by LivePerson, whose CEO, Robert LoCascio, recognized that the relatively affluent and influential Cannes crowd was an ideal test market for Apple’s exclusive platform:
With the vast majority of Cannes Lions attendees using iOS, Apple Business Chat is the perfect solution for the concierge service.
WhatsApp, what’s that?
Apple Business Chat launched in beta earlier this year with select brands in the U.S. and Canada, including Home Depot, Marriott and Wells Fargo.
With Business Chat, iPhone users searching on Safari or browsing through Apple maps will be able to click “message” within a business’ profile and start a conversation through iMessage, much like how they would initiate a phone call.
The Telegraph in the UK is currently using WhatsApp to deliver play-by-play analysis and notifications to soccer fans during the World Cup, another example of the technology’s potential to change how we experience (not to mention, gamble on) live events.
Messaging Beats Social Media for News
More people are getting their news from messaging apps than Facebook and Twitter, according to the 2018 Reuters Digital News Report.
The Oxford University study, which surveyed more than 74,000 people in 37 countries about how they consume news, found that people are “more comfortable” using “closed messaging apps,” as one survey participant explained:
Somehow WhatsApp feels a lot more private. Like it’s kind of a hybrid between texting and social media. Whereas in Facebook, for some reason it just feels like it’s public. Even if you’re in Messenger.
Good news, bad news ⚖️
In countries where free speech is threatened, notes Axios, encrypted messaging is a safe and private way for citizens to share news and information with each other.
It’s no accident that encrypted messaging apps like Telegram have taken off in authoritarian regimes like Iran, whose decision to ban the app last month has led to profound consequences for human rights in the country.
Closer to home, Facebook Messenger’s new auto-translation feature is being hailed as an antidote to the division at the U.S.-Mexico border.
On the other hand, some fear chat apps have become a “black box” for the spread of false news and misinformation.
Like social media and pretty much every new technology that came before it — television, video games, the humble printing press — messaging apps are being celebrated and vilified in equal measure.
Just another sign that they’re a cultural force to be reckoned with, in business and in life.