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Facebook's future could include app consolidation

Matt Kapko | April 6, 2015
Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg has been on a mission to unbundle the company's many services and expand far beyond the single application that transformed it into the largest media platform that's ever existed. Zuckerberg says the changes represent an evolution in Facebook's approach to how it connects people around the world.

Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg has been on a mission to unbundle the company's many services and expand far beyond the single application that transformed it into the largest media platform that's ever existed. Zuckerberg says the changes represent an evolution in Facebook's approach to how it connects people around the world.

"Facebook used to be this single blue app and it did a lot of different things," Zuckerberg said during his opening keynote last week at F8, the company's annual developers conference. "Now Facebook is a family of apps."

Facebook reaches massive scale with apps

The number of people who use the Facebook family of apps is remarkable. More than 1.4 billion users access the core Facebook platform on a monthly basis, and it's only a matter of time before the company's other apps also hit the billion-user mark. More specifically, about 700 million people use Groups at least once a month, another 700 million use WhatsApp, 600 million people use Messenger, and 300 million use Instagram at least one time per month.

"We're building this family so we can offer unique world-class experiences for all of the ways that people want to share, because people need to be able to express everything that matters to them with all of the different groups of people that they care about," Zuckerberg said.

User behaviors change with the channels and methods in which they share content with others. Zuckerberg says the change represents the "biggest shift that we've made in our strategy of helping to connect people in many years."

The majority of social activity used to consist of text-based status updates and wall posts, but photographs and other visual content eventually supplanted words as the communication method of choice. Zuckerberg thinks video will become the dominant format within five years and predicts more immersive content, such as virtual and augmented reality, will be the most popular medium by 2025. As such, Facebook is preparing for a future in which people will share all different kinds of content with many different types of people, Zuckerberg says, and one platform will not meet all the social media needs for all people.

The rise of Messenger as a platform

Facebook manages and controls at least four distinct platforms today, and its newest platform is being built around Messenger, its aptly named messaging service. The company last week unveiled plans to let businesses and developers integrate their services and popular features with Facebook Messenger.

David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook, says emotion and expression are core to the way people communicate, but modern tools leave these qualities out of the communication process. Inventions such as the telegraph, telephone, email and text messages are remarkable because they let individuals stay in touch, but they also lack the ability to share emotion, according to Marcus.

 

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