Facebook has a knack of releasing multiple apps covering the totality of its services. While the messaging functionality is available in the main Facebook app right now, the company is now removing it, forcing users to download its Messenger app too.
Facebook for iOS and Android allowed users to send and receive inbox messages until now. However, the company has been trying to turn its messages section into a standalone chat app altogether, hence the ‘online’ icons and a separate Messenger app.
Until now, the Messenger app was optional. I was among the many users who chose to stuck with the main Facebook app and use messages from within it, rather than downloading yet another Facebook app. But Facebook is taking away that choice now. The social network has started notifying its iOS and Android users that they will no longer have the option of sending or receiving messages through the main app.
In other words, if you want to use Facebook messages on your smartphone, you will inevitably have to download the Messenger app now. The earliest to be hit with this announcement are users in Europe. The users who have received it have been told that they have two weeks before they will no longer have access to the Messages section on their main Facebook app.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg foretold this strategy back in November last year. According to him, “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. 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.”
The fact that the migration to the new Messenger app is not a choice but a necessity, is certainly an unwise move on the part of Facebook. And it will ultimately determine whether Messenger takes off as the WhatsApp of the internet or it flounders in popularity and loses the game.