Chatting on the internet isn’t as horrible as it theoretically could be, but it has one distinct problem. It seems to always become a monopoly. At this point in time, I use discord for most of my communications with people. Discord sucks balls though let’s be honest. It locks a bunch of features behind an expensive paywall, the problem is there is nothing to move to.
One of the biggest problems is the network. Everyone is on discord, and it isn’t easy to get people to want to use something else. You could have a perfect chat app but the problem with a chat app is that it is useless if no one is on it. People like to be able to only use one chat app, and that is completely valid. The problem is when that means that one company controls all your communications.
The thing with chat apps is that they are not easy to monetize. Unlike social media people will hate you if you put any ads, and while data collection does work and pretty much everyone does it, it is not favorable. So, a lot of companies must get creative. Like our good friend discord who bullies you into paying $10 a month to talk to your friends. While it may seem weird to consider chat apps aren’t cheap to run, because while text isn’t big, images are. A paid option for a chat app is also basically guaranteed to have a very small user base so it is basically a non-option. Out of everything I think signal has probably done the best job, it relies on donations and grants, though it has a special case with its privacy centric service.
All this makes making alternatives to big chat apps very hard. Even if you can manage to code good chat app chances are you will have a hard time funding it, and if you can fund it getting a userbase will still be hard. Ideally you would have something not under the control of one entity but solutions like matrix.org tend to be mediocre at best, and the vast majority of people are not going to switch to a worse solution. So not only do you need to create a better chat app but you need to somehow make it free.
I am going to be honest I have no idea how to deal with this. What I do know is that we need to do something. People shouldn’t be locked down to one shitty company for their communication, no matter what company that is. People shouldn’t have to pay for communication either. We need to find a way to put online chatting in the hands of the people.