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Why WIRE Will Struggle To Find Room In A Crowded Mobile Communications Market

by Nitesh Patel | Dec 09, 2014

Why WIRE Will Struggle To Find Room In A Crowded Mobile Communications Market

Wire,is a free messaging and communications app that launched last week and which is backed by Skype co-founder, Janus Friis. The app is available on an invite only basis for OSX, iOS 8 (iPhones and iPads) and Android  (4.2 and above). From the outset, Wire supports four core functions: one-to-one messaging and voice calls, group messaging, and the ability to share pictures, Youtube video and audio via SoundCloud.

I was immediately interested in finding out what its unique selling point (USP) would be

  • What makes it different and essential as an alternative to the plethora of messaging and communication apps already available?
  • Does Wire have the potential to supplant WhatsApp, the Facebook owned 1000 lbs gorilla, at the top of the mobile messaging tree?


Earlier this year I speculated that the direction of the mobile messaging and communications will to some extent be dictated by how seamlessly communication functionality integrates with productivity features, such as the browser, calendars and search – as I attempted to make sense of Google’s acquisition of EMU.

Instead, Wire is promoting security (e.g. end-to-end encryption of voice calls), and the integration of entertainment services, such as Youtube and SoundCloud. When links to Youtube or SoundCloud content are sent via Wire, the content can be played directly in communication window via a “play button”, providing a seamless content consuming experience for users. E.g. clicking on the link does not require the user to wait for a separate application or media player to be loaded before content is viewed. However, the integration of entertainment is not entirely new within communication apps. Kakao, LINE and WeChat (all of Asian origin) have used the communications app as a bridgehead for distributing social apps and games, in much the same way Facebook has done with games and video. Wire has indicated it will integrate “other services” into the application over time, but has yet to outline which ones.

While mashing together third-party services into messaging and communication services is a clear trend, on its own I do not expect it will be sufficient to overcome the more established players in this crowded market. Furthermore, while privacy and security will undoubtedly resonate with some consumers, I doubt it will be enough to appeal to the masses – that continue to use Facebook and Google. Though, over time and with persistent well publicized lapses (e.g. NSA spying and the celebrity iCloud leak) surely security and privacy will increase in importance?

In my view Wire will also needs to rapidly add support for more platforms and devices – why is Windows missing? In addition Wire needs to increase its feature support, which frankly looks lacking vis-à-vis other communication apps.  

Outside of the global and regional giants (WhatsApp, Skype, WeChat, LINE and Kakao) there are other communication apps that focus on differentiated features and functions, for example:  KIK, promotes anonymity and a modular approach to feature build out; Oovoo with its video chat rooms; and SnapChat for sending video clips that can last between 1-10 seconds before disappearing. Many of these apps have garnered large numbers of users, but remain firmly in the long-tail – e.g. few are heavily used by many. Additionally, there are communication apps preloaded onto phones by OEMs and platform vendors; Apple’s iMessage, Google’s Google Talk, Blackberry’s BBM, Samsung’s ChatOn, and Microsoft’s Skype…..let’s not completely forego the fickle nature of consumers, but do consumers really want or need another communications app?

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