Just a few months after the start of the great unbundling, which saw Facebook split Messenger off from the main app, the social networking giant has revealed that half-a-billion people are now using the standalone Messenger mobile app each month.
The move hasn’t been the most popular one from Facebook in recent times, with many questioning why they need to carry out a separate installation to use a feature that was already available in the main app, but Facebook has always stressed they had good reasons.
Indeed, in a Q&A last week, Zuckerberg addressed this question directly, saying:
“The first thing I want to do is acknowledge that asking everyone in our community to install a new app is a big ask. We really believe that this is a better experience and the messaging is really important. Each app can do one thing well.”
This is more or less what Facebook has said previously – by creating standalone entities, each app will perform better. But while ‘speed’ is one of the reasons for splitting it off, it has ultimately been about removing friction from the messaging process.
According to Facebook, 10 billion messages are sent each and every day, but this requires navigating through the main Facebook app to get to the relevant tab. So while WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and the myriad of other apps on a user’s homescreen were all pretty much one tap away, Facebook’s Messenger wasn’t.
While Facebook is about as ubiquitous a social network as you’ll find with more than 85 percent of some countries’ population using the service, more people still use SMS or messaging. Ultimately, Facebook is looking to ensure as many people are using its services as possible, and if that means unbundling one specific feature, then so be it.
While Facebook Messenger has previously passed the 500 million downloads milestone, the fact that it now claims this many people are actively using it, suggests that the original shift may not have been as unpopular as first seemed. Either that, or many folks simply rely too much on Facebook to communicate with friends to resist for long.
One final thought: WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, claims north of 600 million monthly active users. While there will of course be some crossover here with Messenger, to say that Facebook holds a gargantuan messaging market share, would be an understatement.