Worried about having too many messaging apps? Boy do I have bad news for you.

Today my twitter app offered me the option to integrate my Instagram. I said no. Shortly afterward I started reading about a service called “Slack”.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.25.02 pmThe line about the email killer made me laugh.

If you hope one day your email, your twitter, facebook, sms, skype, postal mail and home phone will all be in one app, you’re dreaming.

Likewise, if you invent a messaging app you intend to be the one to rule them all, you’ll end up contributing only clutter to the landscape.

This is not a bad thing.

We have specific needs for different types of communication. Each will be best served by different kinds of technology.

I think this argument is best served with an analogy.

The area of our lives where technology is most mature is the kitchen. What we see is not a streamlining of technology but hyper-specialisation.

I just counted and there are thirteen separate heat sources in my kitchen.

  • Oven
  • Grill
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Kettle
  • Espresso machine
  • Sandwich press
  • Hot tap
  • Rice cooker
  • Four gas burners

There has been no major technological innovation there for years. And human tastes when it comes to food are very well-established. We can’t pretend the current state of technological proliferation is due to rapid developments or uninformed consumer prefereneces.

In theory I could use a single hot plate to get (almost) all the tasks done. But the cost of proliferation is small compared to my preference for getting the job done properly.

The microwave promised to do it all too
The microwave promised to do it all too.

For the same reason I have a cutlery drawer, not a Swiss Army knife.

The idea human communication needs can be met with a single “killer” app is crazy. We talk, we write, we draw, we sing, we shout and whisper. Even in the medium of “mail” we send not just letters but also bills and postcards.

In the future we’re going to have phones full of messaging apps, each subtly different. We’ll appreciate them all and look back with amusement on this naive era – an era where entrepreneurs who aimed to be all things to all people invented apps that ended up with a very specific purpose.