It's 2020 and the internet still has the most basic of problems it did 20 years ago. Its really difficult to have a conversation on the internet.
Remember when reading this, these are my personal opinions which mainly come from 20 years of hands on personal experience I’m not asking you to agree with me in any shape or form, I'm writing this as a personal journey not as an effort to start a flame war. This is just one guys journey not a personal a affront against your beliefs. I'm open to opinion and grown up discussion, but cannot be bothered with trolls.
Also I know I can't spell and my grammer is terrible, you don't need to tell me.
But writer, we have a plethora of apps and methods for having a conversation on the internet, and of course yes, you are right we do.
With WhatsApp, Teams, Signal, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Skype, SMS, Google Duo or Hangouts and Slack in the mainstream lets call them Top Tier you'd think thats enough, however there are also additional services like Mumble, Mattermost, Rocket Chat and may other chat apps which fill niche areas for people with requirements which those mainstream top tier apps don't supply.
However there is still a problem here..
Let me elaborate on my current situation
My Family have centered around WhatsApp as a chat app, not a personal preference, however getting a group of people using a single platform isn't easy. So thats App number 1
I then have my office communication App, Teams, love it or not Teams is here to stay, the conversation with IT teams and Finance teeams of implementing another company wide communications system outside of the Office365 offering just doesn't warrent the effort in most medium to large sized companies. Its free, its part of the wider office suite, it does Chat, Video, Audio and Collaboration.
That being said, outside of work my team use Slack to communicate as many do not want to put corperate controlled software on thier mobile devices. So thats a 3rd App.
I thnk subscribe to several chat groups on Telegram a 4th app, things like Jupiter Publishing who do a lot of good Linux Podcasts and theres an Actice OpenSuse sponsered channel on Telegram too.
I have Google Duo on my phone and wished more people I knew used that as a video chat tool as its really good.
I've got apps like Zoom, Hangouts, Webex, Meet etcinstalled for communicating with suppliers
Then theres the outliers like LinkedIn's inbuilt chat or Reddit and even an IRC app because, people in the community like to chat on these apps too.
So I have 11 apps on my phone, at least 9 are dedicating to having a conversation and thats above email accounts
I have considered the option of trying to move my family off WhatsApp, however
If I was to try and have my family move to another platform because of my personal dislike of WhatsApp or more specfically Facebook, then they would have my problem and realistically be a lot less chatty. Because thier friends are on WhatsApp so there would be two apps they would need to contend with, the first with most people they want to chat with, the second with me.. So in this scenario its me causing the problem.
This is the quintessential problem with chat applications on the internet. There are many good options for holding a conversation available, all with better security, less linkage to Facebook, better features, better vide quality and possibly more usable. The simple fact is the only chat app you need, is the one other people are on and in this example 2billion active users are are WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams has overtaken slack in the workplace and thats not about to slow down.
This means that should a company like Google ever get its act together and create the ultimate Chat/Communications platform as its seemingly trying to do, its already lost the battle. Business is using Teams, people are using WhatsApp.
As i've said before even if Google or any one of the above companies creates the most compelling, technically advanced, user friendly chat system available, its going to die because if no one is using it, theres no one to talk to.
Personally the ideal situation right now would be for the industry to have something which already existed/exists Pidgin.
Back in the day this application was amazing, at one point it was possible to use Pidgin to consolodate into a single interface Facebook Chat, Google Chat, IRC, ICQ, Shype Chat and many others. All those messaging apps into a single consolodated interface.
Unfortunaly as time has passed the larger companies have closed off the access needed to do this within thier chat apps and Pidgin became less relevent.
Today we have Franz, Rambox or Shift which put a wrapper around the web app provided by many of todays Chat apps, however it's nowhere near the same experience as Pidgin offering native feeling chat streams.
I don't know of feel there is an answer to this specific question as this isn't a new problem, as long as there has been the internet and chat apps, there has been a huge choice soon after. Todays needs of business is to use the data on these chat apps to pull out large amounts of data about you and sell it, so the market for open standards takes a beating over profit.
This means for the forseeable future, there will be many like me with a folder of Chat apps to keep in contact with those we choose to.