Facebook acquired WhatsApp in October for 19 billion USD. Yik Yak, an app that lets you chat anonymously with people nearby, recently landed 62 million USD for their next round of funding.
The bottom line ?
Messaging apps aren’t just a hot sector right now. They’re scorching.
But expect those that don’t keep up with security features to fall by the wayside quicker than a hot potato – especially on the heels of Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2014 about the NSA’s surveillance techniques earlier this year.
Trouble is, whilst messaging apps like RetroShare, Signal, Silent Text, Telegram, TextSecure, or Wickr, have gone to market, leading the way in their use encryption technology to ensure chats remain private, they aren’t getting the user base they deserve.
And there’s the rub.
When it comes to messaging apps, users go with the mainstream apps that everyone is using: WhatsApp, Viber and Messenger.
Why ? Because their friends are there, silly!
Still, the big guns won’t be resting on their laurels in 2015. As if Snowden wasn’t a reminder, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “secure messaging scorecard”, published last month, definitely was! The scorecard named and shamed the apps that are most probably on your phone. Without a doubt.
This kick up the proverbials couldn’t come soon enough but, whilst it showcases the strengths of the newer apps, the stronger financial position of the mainstream apps suggests that 2015 will see encryption solutions in all the leading apps, possibly by the end of the first quarter of the year. After all, to be seen to drag your feet in the mobile market is tantamount to an admission of defeat.
So, yes, expect to see the current wave of innovators swept away (or being bought up) in 2015 as the mainstream apps strive to secure their position as market leaders.
TextSecure, one of the most rock solid secure messaging apps out there right now, has already announced it is to bring end-to-end encryption to WhatsApp, first on Android and then iOS.
And Viber’s CEO Talmon Marco has been talking up the importance of privacy ever since it was revealed in April that the app was found transmitting images and video without encryption. Thankfully, this was quickly fixed.
Check the privacy settings for your messaging app of choice! Check how your app did on the Scorecard and if you’re still concerned why not download some of the apps that did well on The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “secure messaging scorecard” and persuade your friends to switch platform.
With plenty of money seemingly still in the messaging sector, messaging app developers are going to have to raise their game to maintain the confidence of users as data security continues to be a hot topic next year. And that means better security for end users which can’t be a bad thing, can it ?