Technically released in August 2011, the Facebook Messenger app has finally taken off. Allowing users to directly message their “friends” is nothing new to Facebook, but developing a separate app for it has been a challenge to push.
The question at hand for users is: if they already have the Facebook app, why get a separate one to only do one thing? The answer is part of a broader trend among app developers: apps within apps.
Besides the faster messaging speeds, push notifications and access to additional messaging features like pictures, video and emoticons, the Messenger app is rebranding the way we use Facebook. Recognized as a great way to interact and view the social lives of your friends, Messenger app is designed to take on existing direct-messaging services, most notably SMS.
But, do people even want to another messenger app? A recent poll from AndroidCentral.com shows that 38 percent of users elected to bypass the app when forced to download it and 22 percent uninstalled the app within the first month after download. This could be in part why Facebook elected to completely cut off direct messaging in its main app, and forced users to adapt to Messenger or stop using the service altogether.
Facebook isn’t the only company to experiment with different services within apps. Pinterest just released its own version of a direct messenger app. The service lets you pin a product to a friend’s board and have a direct conversation around this centerpiece. You can detail where you got it, thoughts and interesting anecdotes about how to stay with the latest fashion pieces, products and trends. Snapchat integrated direct messaging into its app earlier this year. Instagram and Twitter are also reportedly working on developing their own direct messengers.
But the question remains: why has the development of apps within apps become such a broad trend? The answer is that these companies are diversifying their services and app offerings as a way to stay competitive within the increasingly ever-crowded app marketplace. Through this diversification, and in the case of Facebook splitting off that service into a stand-alone app, allows these companies to create multiple touchpoints between the consumer and their brand, product or service. It also opens to door for more data collection on those users which the companies can then sell to marketers.
Despite the negative reaction from users against Facebook messenger, this trend of app diversification and apps within apps is likely to continue. Users will eventually adapt to the new app or they will stop using Facebook all together.