Ecosystems – is a common terminology for most and is used in a broad context of various areas of life. Ecosystems can be natural, financial and communicational. Communication ecosystems reflect the core needs and requirements of people in modern society. Developers strive to integrate a maximized spectrum of functionalities in such super-applications, in order for people to be able to realize most of their needs over the course of the day without leaving the global application.
Certain ecosystems are developed on the foundation of a messenger, while there are also applications that are developed as an ecosystem with all these functions included. However, the main principle of such super-applications is to maximize the spectrum of capabilities and functionalities under one brand, i.e. globalization within a small icon on a smartphone’s screen.
One of the forthcoming leaders in this regard is the Chinese WeChat. This application has more than a billion of users, although it is localized primarily in China. This rate of popularity and success has many social reasons behind it – including practically total absence of competition in the country. However, this cumulation has led to an emergence of a certain technological phenomenon that is used as an example by other developers of ecosystems. Nowadays, despite its drawbacks, it is referred to as a technological template for other developers of super-applications.
Contents of an Ecosystem
All messengers are developed via functionality expansion, although not all have reached the status or format of an ecosystem just yet. For instance, Telegram offers popular informational channels, an ability to host video conferences and several other functions apart from common message exchange, though it does not have its own marketplace, a service for ordering food delivery or a taxi. Hence, it can not be classified in the category of super-applications just yet. The range of functionalities offered in WhatsApp is even less.
In order to use a communication system of this kind in Russia or other countries it is not necessary to register on the Chinese WeChat. Users elsewhere have the international Gem4me available to them – a communication ecosystem with its own marketplace, informational channels, video conferences for up to 1000 participants and many other capabilities. This messenger as initially created in the ecosystem format, therefore, standard communication functions are developed at equal rates. For example, apart from the common message exchange and voice calls, the ecosystem also offers an international marketplace for selling products and services with convenient payments and acquiring support in several countries, various information channels with convenient article editing and much more. Moreover, apart from WeChat, all this functionality is realized in sections of the Gem4me application, not separate mini-applications in the ecosystem – which makes Gem4me ecosystem even more fluid and user-friendly, as well as, the built-in translator to 17 languages allows to communicate with users from all over the world.
Additionally,there are also social networks that have expanded their functionality to a global ecosystem. A bright example of such is the Vkontakte social network. It now has mini-applications with a wide range of functions: payments and monetary transfers, food delivery, dating services, games and much more.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Ecosystems
The most obvious and core advantage for a user of an ecosystem is the wide range of capabilities combined in one informational space with quick access to the most frequently used services. This saves time, eliminates the need to continuously register or enter information to access other applications, while the interface is fluid and visually pleasing. Developers strive to include the most functions – marketplaces, ordering food, taxi service, purchasing tickets, news and information channels, housing and payment gateways, dating services, games and much more.
Although, such global systems do have controversial sides to them, according to users. The core issue is in combining all the necessary services under just one account. In case of a lock out, a user can lose access to all the functions at once. Moreover, in case of WeChat, restoring access to one’s account is only possible through another user of the system who has to verify your identity. Additionally, the user who is verifying you must be registered in the system for no less than 6 months.
Furthermore, the application assigns ratings to its users, based on which a user’s trustworthiness and degree of trust form various providers is determined. For example, a user with a positive rating can borrow devices to charge their phone with no deposit, while users with a high rating can even rent a car with no deposit.
Future Development and Perspectives of the Ecosystem
The tendency of broadening functionality and expanding messenger applications will remain evident. Even in case developers of a particular messenger are not setting themselves the specific task of evolving their application into an ecosystem, given the needs of modern users and in order to remain competitive – expansion of technological capabilities and providing convenience to users is always the priority.
Functional and visual drawbacks of world’s leading messengers remain an interesting peculiarity. For instance, WhatsApp has still not introduced the ability to edit sent messages, which has been available in other messengers, including Gem4me and Telegram, let alone any development towards becoming an ecosystem. Additionally, users of WeChat are not too fond of the application’s overall design, while it would be beneficial to improve usability and intuitive accessibility of functions. Perhaps, the situation will begin to drastically change once competition from other applications increases.
In terms of human perception, on the one hand, drawbacks of ecosystems are frequently mentioned, such as dangerous concentration of all functions in one application and personal information in the open. However, it is highly unlikely that users will be able to avoid using ecosystems due to the wide margin of benefits offered within. Consequently, balance can be achieved in the future, in part by increasing security for users in mutual correspondence with a continuously broadening spectrum of capabilities.