During a public question and answer session held on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered a number of questions about Facebook, and finally explained why his company made the unpopular move of forcing users to download the separate Messenger app in order to use Facebook's messaging capabilities.
As relayed by The Verge, Zuckerberg told the audience that messaging was removed from the main Facebook app because the company believes that a standalone messaging app is "a better experience.
Zuckerberg explained that when the Facebook team looked at other messaging apps, all of them focused on delivering just messaging alone, rather than a multitude of features. Facebook believed there were too many steps involved in sending a message in the main Facebook app, which is meant to be a News Feed, so it began requiring Messenger to cut down on friction.
Messaging is one of the few things people do more than social networking. In some countries 85 percent of people are on Facebook, but 95 percent of people use SMS or messaging. Asking folks to install another app is a short term painful thing, but if we wanted to focus on serving this [use case] well, we had to build a dedicated and focused experience.
We build for the whole community. Why wouldn't we let people choose to install the app on their own at their own pace? The reason is that what we're trying to do is build a service that's good for everyone. Because Messenger is faster and more focused, if you're using it, you respond to messages faster, we've found. If your friends are slower to respond, we might not have been able to meet up.
Zuckerberg went on to say that the company has its "most talented people" working on earning consumer trust and proving that the standalone Messenger experience "will be really good."
Facebook first began forcing users to switch over to Facebook Messenger to send and accept messages back in July, a move that turned out to be highly unpopular. Before the change, Facebook users could chat through the Messages tab located on the bottom toolbar in the main Facebook app, but after messaging capabilities were removed, the tab began directing users to download Facebook Messenger instead.
As a result, Facebook Messenger began receiving hundreds of negative reviews from users who were unhappy they were forced to download the app, and even today, months later, the app continues to have a 1.5 star rating in the App Store.