There is a lot of activity happening in the ‘messaging’ space at the moment. It is likely to do with societies love of instant, real-time gratification. A lot of the emerging players are ‘me-too’ solutions that all look the same, all work the same and are all competing to be the next big thing.
So it is quite rare that Pip, a new product launched by AOL could actually end up being the next big thing in the global tech scene, because quite frankly – having worked for a large multinational, that I saw develop a version of Instagram back in 2009 – corporates often have a propensity to screw up innovation by focusing on themselves and their bottom line first instead of users.
The ‘Pip Project’ is being led by Ryan Block and Peter Rojas at AOL, via their department called Alpha. The team in the Alpha department is about 20 strong and they have quite a large amount of independence from the wider AOL company, to allow them to ‘tinker around with all kinds of new ideas’.
Pip is being referred to as a structured messaging app, which is an appropriate name for it – as unlike nano-social applications we saw launch this year like ‘Yo’ and ‘Oi” – the specific one word / phrase messages that you are able to send to your friends and colleagues have a very clear purpose in the messaging they are wanting to communicate.
For example, you can send messages like “Call me,” and “I’m running late” (with specific time intervals). On the flip side users can communicate back with another set of ‘structured messages’.
What makes the application appealing, and stand out in comparison to using Whatsapp, Yo, Oi, Snapchat etc is that, (whether on purpose or by mistake) it seems to be focused on enhancing communication between your closest network and you. The UX is seamless and the UI is large bold and minimalist, meaning that there is no real need to search through hundreds of contacts names like the others to send a message – you simply click a face. A much easier option for when you are on the go.
In a statement made to Techcrunch today, Block said that the aim was not to take over the whole messaging space, but rather just to make it easier to send some of the more common daily messages that people tend to use. On that point I think he is right, messaging itself has become an inherently lazy practice, every day phrases become more abbreviated and people want to have an option to communicate the menial things they have to say with the least amount of effort required.
If the future of e-commerce is one touch purchasing, there is no reason the future of messaging can’t be one touch either.