Facebook Will Remove Chat to Promote Messenger App

Facebook is going to remove chat from the primary iPhone and Android app, in order to force users to install a standalone Facebook Messenger app.

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Facebook has already notified its users in the United Kingdom, France and other European countries that they will need to install a separate Messenger app if they want to continue using Facebook chat on their smartphones. The company issued a statement, saying that they have created a fast and reliable messaging experience via Messenger, and are now determined to focus on that experience.

The representatives of the company admitted that they plan to eventually require that users all over the world install the Messenger app, but they couldn’t provide a specific timeframe for the change.

The app developers point out that the free, standalone Messenger is faster than the messaging service built into the main Facebook app for smartphones. The users will also be provided more features in the Messenger app, including the ability to make voice phone calls via Wi-Fi in some countries and send texts on Android.

At the moment, Facebook keeps facing increasing competition from new and fast-growing mobile messaging application like Line and WeChat, along with such established brands as Google Hangouts and BlackBerry’s BBM. Fortunately, Facebook managed to acquire one of its biggest messaging competitors, WhatsApp, for $19bn a couple months ago. WhatsApp then announced adding voice calling later in February at Mobile World Congress.

Industry observers believe that Facebook’s decision to encourage users to switch to a separate messaging app on mobiles could either help boost the popularity of its Messenger or cause a backlash if users view the action as heavy-handed. In addition, this standalone app will also directly compete with WhatsApp.

Nevertheless, Facebook is increasingly moving into the mobile space, believing that it is a way to continue expanding its 1.2 billion-strong user base. The company has developed or acquired a catalogue of standalone apps aside from its main application over the past few years. Three months ago, Facebook launched Paper, a photo-heavy news-reading application that has already earned positive reviews. The company also purchased photo-sharing app Instagram a couple years ago, which recently reached 200 million users.

Thanks to ET.