decision to force its mobile users to download a second app to
send messages directly to their contacts has been both a success
and a failure. The app stands at No. 1 for free apps in both
's App Store and
's Play Store, but a backlash appears to be building.
Reviews in the two app stores are overwhelmingly
negative. Apple breaks out reviews of the latest version of the
app -- the one released after the company decided to remove
messaging from its core app -- and they are crushingly bad.
Viewing the stats for Messenger Version 9.1 on an iPhone shows
that as of Monday morning, more than 17,000 reviewers give the
app a cumulative score of one star out of five.
Google does not separate reviews for a new version from old
ones, so Messenger still comes in with a 4.1 out of five stars,
with more than 7 million reviews. But the latest reviews suggest
Android users are as upset as those using iOS. The vast majority
of recent reviews are for one or two stars, with many expressing
anger at being forced to download a second app.
"It isn't the right move to require all Facebook members [to]
'have' to download an additional app to communicate through
messages with Facebook. It was part of the original app and they
are just forcing their users to download additional products of
theirs when the original worked just fine," wrote Stephen Lestyan
in a review that was representative of the sentiments of
Scrolling through the thousands of reviews left in August
shows that almost nobody had anything positive to say, and many
appear very angry. Facebook may have succeeded in making people
take the app, but they clearly don't like the way it was
Why is Facebook doing this?
The short answer is that it's better to have people use two of
your apps than one. Facebook believes, probably correctly, that
if users have a separate Facebook-owned messaging app
installed on their phones and tablets, they will send more
messages than they do with messaging being part of an
already-crowded Facebook app. More messages means more
opportunities to sell ads or otherwise monetize though the
Messenger app, which is currently ad-free.
In April the company made the following statement:
Today we are starting to notify people that messages are
moving out of the Facebook app and over to the Messenger app.
To continue sending messages on mobile, people will need to
install the Messenger app.
The social media giant attempted to justify the move, saying
it would now be able to "focus on making Messenger better for
everyone rather than working on two messaging experiences." The
company also said the split would improve chat abilities for
many users, with Facebook data suggesting replies are 20% faster
Consumers seem to like things the old way, and outrage has
been high since the split was announced. That said, outrage is
high whenever Facebook makes or announces any sort of change. And
history has shown us that has not led people to leaving the
social media site, because no clear alternative exists. It's not
easy to decamp for another social media site if your friends,
family, and contacts aren't there.
Facebook has a near-monopoly, and unlike the cable companies
that mostly used their monopolies to slowly raise prices,
Facebook is using its to extend its empire.
Can Facebook keep pushing its customers around?
Facebook has so many users that it makes it hard for both
competitors and customers. A company can release a better social
media product that consumers love, but until it can add a few
hundred million daily visitors, it's not really an alternative.
This lack of anyplace else to go has allowed Facebook to do
things its users don't like.
In some cases, those things actually benefit the product in
the long run. It's a huge advantage for Facebook that its size
and relative lack of competition allows the company to evolve
without caring about public opinion. If
decided to cut post lengths to 100 characters and the
public hated it, the company might be forced to reverse its
decision because people can just leave. That's theoretically true
for Facebook, but leaving means forgoing the things Facebook
offers because it has so many users.
Your grandmother and high school soccer coach may not be on
other social media platforms. Facebook has the birthdays, life
events, and other news from so many users, it's hard for most
people to not be there.
Facebook pushes its users where it thinks they should go for
the company's sake and their own -- at least that's how Facebook
appears to see it. Until another social media or messaging
platform approaches Facebook's user base, it will be able to
continue to do so without fear of losing users. It's not
impossible to compete with Facebook; WhatsApp was on its way to
doing so when Facebook bought it for $19 billion. But until that
competition arrives, Facebook can do whatever it wants.
Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to
guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the
public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some
early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the
the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million
of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small
company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock
price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know
investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart
Will the Facebook Messenger Move Hurt the Social
originally appeared on Fool.com.
is long Apple. He does not mind the Messenger app and does
use it more than he messaged on the main Facebook app. The Motley
Fool recommends Apple, Facebook, Google (C shares), and Twitter.
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