YouTube Now Provides Messaging Feature in Mobile App

By Jenn Loro - 14 May '16 11:25AM

YouTube is adding a new messaging feature to its video-sharing platform in its smartphone app to enable people to share and talk about videos without switching to other social media platforms.

The new add-on has been announced Friday this week and is currently being tested to a select group of people who have installed YouTube on their iOS or Android devices. If beta testing goes well, we can expect Google to roll out the new messaging option in an update in the near future.

YouTube is Alphabet Google's video-sharing arm. Now that the social media landscape is more diverse than ever, Google is facing tough competition for audience capture from other popular video and even messaging apps. As of the moment, most people would make a reference of the videos they've watched or seen by posting the YouTube URLs to Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.

However, YouTube's recent move is not a sign of desperation. Mobile-wise, the platform's share of audience has been steadily increasing over the years and sees no sign of dropping. As per Tech Crunch, the average YouTube viewing session is about 40 minutes. On many accounts, YouTube even surpasses major US TV networks in terms of viewership especially for audience aged 18 to 49.

Still, the decision comes at a time when YouTube is working to introduce significant changes to its platform. It wants to redefine itself not just as a platform for uploading, viewing, and sharing user-generated content but a place where users can watch original TV series, listen to music even in offline mode, and watch a whole bunch of other stuff like kid's videos, e-sports, and more.

By adding the messenger feature, YouTube will increasingly become a social networking platform especially now that Amazon is trying to nab some YouTube users away by rolling out its own video service called Amazon Video Direct, The Verge reported. YouTube has to change and present something new.

If YouTube is heading toward social networking, Facebook is aggressively moving toward video sharing as well, Wired Magazine said in its report. Facebook is currently the undisputed lord of mobile more than a billion users hooked to its varying services like messaging, social networking, image-sharing as well as video. Its messenger has over 1 billion users white its subsidiary, WhatsApp, has over 900 million avid users. Furthermore, Snapchat is increasingly getting popular with 100 million using the app daily.

Getting the audience stuck in YouTube without going over to another app for other purposes like messaging, Google can create more advertising opportunities by tapping into its one billion-strong user base who are using its service.

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