Zuckerberg explains why Facebook Messenger became its own app

Zuckerberg explains why Facebook Messenger became its own app

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Mr. Social Network himself. Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr CC
Mr. Social Network himself. Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr CC

From answering trolls online to busting out near-fluent Mandarin in front of a surprised audience, Mark Zuckerberg’s all about defying expectations these days. That trend continued yesterday, as he gave a reasonable (and even Steve Jobsian) answer about why Facebook moved messaging out of its main app and into a standalone Messenger one.

Telling the audience at his first public Q&A that, “I’m grateful for hard questions” and “it keeps us honest,” Zuck noted how:

“On mobile, each app can only focus on doing one thing well, we think. The primary purpose of the Facebook app is News Feed. Messaging was this behavior people were doing more and more. 10 billion messages are sent per day, but in order to get to it you had to wait for the app to load and go to a separate tab. We saw that the top messaging apps people were using were their own app.

These apps that are fast and just focused on messaging. You’re probably messaging people 15 times per day. Having to go into an app and take a bunch of steps to get to messaging is a lot of friction. Messaging is one of the few things people do more than social networking. In some countries 85 percent of people are on Facebook, but 95 percent of people use SMS or messaging.

Asking folks to install another app is a short term painful thing, but if we wanted to focus on serving this [use case] well, we had to build a dedicated and focused experience.”

While there’s more to his answer than that, the above section represents the most important aspect of what he is saying. The answer smacks of Steve Jobs based on Jobs’ famous comment to Google’s Larry Page that Google was “doing too much” and should focus on taking one or two concepts and executing them well.

Facebook, for its part, has been moving toward becoming a “mobile first” company for the past two or three years: a phrased used by Facebook engineer Vijay Shankar when I interviewed him earlier in 2014. This, in turn, means splitting services into as many apps as possible. Rumored other apps involve mobile payments, healthcare, and anonymous chat tools.

While personally I haven’t installed Messenger — accessing Facebook instead through the Safari browser, which enables you to use the messaging feature as you would on a Mac — Zuckerberg’s UX-focused answer is at least worlds better than the silence Facebook treated this question with for so long.

Other ways of avoiding Messenger involve downloading Facebook Paper, which is essentially a prettier default Facebook app, or using a simple tweek called FBNoNeedMessenger on jailbroken iPhones.

Via: The Verge