In January, Facebook announced a 49 percent year-over-year increase in its number of mobile daily active users. Then, in its Q4 2013 earnings report, it said that its mobile daily active users had reached an average of 556 million. What this means is that more people are engaging with Facebook using their mobile devices instead of logging into the service from their desktop computers.
Obviously that’s a good thing for Facebook as it means people access the service on the go, probably while they’re sitting on the bus on the way to work or school, or while waiting for their friends to arrive at their favorite café. And now, Facebook wants to shred its mobile app into little pieces.
Facebook users in Europe have reported receiving notifications regarding a huge change with its mobile app. Very soon, the chat function within the Facebook app will be going away, forever, which means they’ll no longer be able to chat with their friends from within the app. Instead, people are going to have to download ‘Facebook Messenger’, a standalone chat app that comes with all those annoying ‘chat heads’. The change will affect both iOS and Android users, so Facebook is effectively forcing people to use two separate apps if they want to experience all it has to offer on mobile.
Not that we should be surprised by this – the change was actually announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg back in 2013, when he revealed plans to deliver a more focused experience to users.
“The other thing that we’re doing with Messenger is making it so once you have the standalone Messenger app, we are actually taking messaging out of the main Facebook app,” said Zuckberg in an interview with TechCrunch’s Josh Constantine last year.
“And the reason why we’re doing that is we found that having it as a second-class thing inside the Facebook app makes it so there’s more friction to replying to messages, so we would rather have people be using a more focused experience for that.”
If you’re a mobile Facebook user, you may have noticed the messaging feature on the app is pretty slow. You have to wait a few seconds before the messages load, and sometimes, you don’t even see the new messages until your next log in.
Messaging isn’t the only thing that’s been criticized on Facebook’s mobile app – the thing’s so damn big in comparison to most other apps that it’s often been described it as a bloated app, meaning there’s too many features crammed into it. The result is that users are often inconvenienced, having to wait for eternity for new stories to load etc.
This might seem like a drastic move for Facebook, and possibly one that could anger some people, but the social media giant doesn’t really care. Rather, it’s banking on the fact that once people download the Messenger app, they’ll see how much better the chat experience can be, and come to love it just as much as Facebook does.
This may also be a way for Facebook to put its WhatsApp acquisition to good use. Right now, the top messaging services on mobile are WeChat, Kik, KakaoTalk, and Line. By integrating WhatsApp with Facebook Messenger, it may be able to realize its ambitions of dominating the mobile chat market.
If you don’t want to download the Facebook Messenger app, another option is Facebook Paper, the magazine-style app that has messaging integrated into it. Though the app is only available for iOS users in the US, a quick iTunes account tweak can help you install this app no matter where you live.