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Why Apple’s Business Chat Isn’t a Strange Idea

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Jul. 6 2017, Published 12:36 p.m. ET

A customer support tool

Apple (AAPL) is getting ready to launch a business chat service tied to its iMessage platform, according to TechCrunch. 

The new service will be called Business Chat, and it will be a way for customers to conveniently contact businesses to complete a transaction or obtain customer support.

The idea is that after a customer has looked up a business in Apple Maps or the Safari browser, for example, they’ll be able to contact that business right away via chat instead of dialing a phone number to make a call. Through Business Chat, customers can complete transactions, resolve issues, or find answers to their questions.

The chat tool is also a way for businesses to conveniently deal with customer service requests, which can help a business to reduce customer churn.

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Potential boost to Services segment

Apple’s Business Chat will come with its iOS 11 update later this year. The chat will be available across Apple devices from the iPhone to the iPad to the Apple Watch.

Looking closely, Apple’s ambition seems to be to make iMessage a multipurpose tool like WeChat, a messaging app owned by Chinese Internet company Tencent (TCEHY). WeChat users can turn to the app to summon a taxi, book a restaurant reservation, pay for purchases, and chat with friends.

Business Chat could contribute to Apple’s goal of doubling its services revenue in the next few years. The chart above shows Apple’s Services segment’s growth trend.

Enterprise chat market starting to heat up

Apple’s push into the enterprise chat market is likely to ruffle the feathers of the likes of Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and Snap (SNAP), which have been promoting their platforms for business communications. Apple’s growing payment ambitions could also disturb PayPal (PYPL) and Square (SQ), although these payment providers initially downplayed the threat.

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