Pretty soon, if you want to send or receive a Facebook message, you won’t be able to do so from the standalone Facebook app on iOS or Android. Users are reportedly receiving alerts from the social network, warning that they won’t be able to click over to the messaging tab to chat with their friends. They’ll have to download the Messenger app separately.
The strong-arm approach on display here is emblematic of Facebook’s new app strategy, and its most aggressive play for mobile yet. With Paper, Facebook understood that users turn to individual and specialized applications to fulfill their needs: There’s Instagram for photos, Snapchat for disappearing photos, and a plethora of messaging apps–like WhatsApp–to communicate with pals.
Facebook’s standalone app is, in many ways, a Swiss Army knife: You use it for one or two things, and ignore everything else it offers. There’s too much crap to do inside of it. As former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor told Fast Company earlier this year, the company felt that when services like messaging are embedded in the primary app, “everything was a few clicks away, and the experience was secondary.”
So now, Facebook is splintering off all the services it offers into multiple, dedicated pieces of software–WhatsApp, Messenger, Paper, Instagram, etc. Facebook Home was a dud. So instead of colonizing mobile underneath a big blue Facebook banner, the company is flanking your homescreen slowly, one application at a time.