Apple is readying to roll out a new feature in iMessage that will enable users to chat instantly with businesses through Apple’s messaging platform. The feature, called Apple Business Chat, was declared last year at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference and will start this spring with launch partners including Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo.
The feature will enable users to communicate to a business’s service rep in iMessage; make payments through Apple Pay, and plan appointments, depending on the business’s needs.
Apple Business Chat -Company’s Take On To Other Rival Business Messaging Platforms
The step represents a major blow by Apple to shift B2C communications, payments, and customer service to its own messaging platform, and aside from tech companies that today rule business messaging, like Facebook Messenger, Google, Twitter, and, as of this month, WhatsApp, which has just rolled out its own WhatsApp Business app.
While it may look like an unusual fit to talk with businesses in iMessage where people today keep in touch with friends and family via personal conversations; it’s not surprising to see that Apple is entering this space; by introducing Apple Business Chat Feature.
After all, we don’t often consider iMessage the first place you check for business communications; beyond the occasional appointment reminder text or an alert from your bank.
But, Will It Be Easy For Apple?
Facebook Messenger, for instance, already has some 1.3 billion users on its app; which is synced with Facebook’s more extensive social network; where companies can maintain their own existence; via branded Pages, posts, media, publicity, and advertising. Facebook said last year that 80 percent of its then 65 million active companies were using Messenger to reach customers. It’s also been expanding B2C communications on Instagram; as well – an app that has also begun testing a standalone mobile messenger.
WhatsApp, meanwhile, may have only just started the space with WhatsApp Business, but its service also has 1.3 billion users and adhesion in emerging markets, like India.
We also have Google; usually the outset place for various people looking to discover business contact information via the internet, and which allows a related chat solution through Google My Business.
And then there’s Twitter, a service that has grown into the de facto spot for making common customer service objections; in the expectations that your fiery tweet will get company’s attention. Twitter has multiplied down in this area, too, by allowing a suite of tools to companies managing customer service operations on its network.
Where does that transmit Apple Business Chat? While it has the advantage of an iMessage install base in the hundreds of millions, it may seem like just one more area to check. And with only a few of launch partners, users may not recognize who is available over iMessage and who’s not, so just go away.
The company says Apple Business Chat will launch with the public release of iOS 11.3 this spring.