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Facebook may launch news reader, calendar and mobile search standalone apps

Facebook is finally getting its mobile strategy right with Messenger, which is the most widely-used mobile messaging app. This year the social network is aiming for a bigger share of mobile users’ attention with a series of standalone apps.

Facebook iOS 7

Mobile has once been considered the Achilles’ Heel for Facebook.

While the social network has dominated in its own industry — now boasting about a billion users worldwide — it did not have a good start in terms of mobile offerings. The first iterations of Facebook’s mobile app were cumbersome to use and inelegant. With its latest apps, however, such as the latest editions of the standalone Messenger application, Facebook might just have found a winner. And it wants to replicate this experience with several new app releases this year.

Facebook’s latest Messenger app is considered to be an ideal access point for connecting with other users on the platform. It is lightweight, cross-platform, and can integrate neatly with the mobile device. In fact, Messenger aims to take over the mobile phone’s SMS function eventually, which it does through phone number lookup, SMS client capability (on Android, at least), and even free access to Messenger in certain markets.

Another interesting point about Messenger is its branding. Nowhere on the app does it prominently say it’s from Facebook, except perhaps in the support and about pages. Therefore, its use of a generic “messenger” term is a good way to market it as the standard messaging application for both iOS and Android.

When Messenger launched, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an investor call that the company intended to “develop more of these services to help people share.” A source close to the company says this is likely to be Facebook’s strategy for 2014. It’s possible that, like Messenger, Facebook will launch a series of products that unbundle several of Facebook’s core services into separate, standalone apps.

Facebook actually attempted this fragmented approach before, with Facebook Camera and Poke — its unsuccessful ephemeral messaging service once used as a competitor against SnapChat. But these were before Messenger became a success, and so the company is likely to have learned a lot from building and marketing its standalone messenger app in the process. Facebook had reportedly been willing to fail in its development and marketing of Poke and Facebook Camera, which were treated more as an experiment in building and distributing a mobile app.

According to industry observers, the unbundling of services might focus on, or highlight, a few of Facebook’s more engaging features. These include an events calendar, a Flipboard-like personalized news reader,  and a mobile search app that leverages the context- and location-based information gathered by Graph Search. It is likely that Facebook will be launching at least one of these applications within the month, in particular its personalized news feed that would compete against the likes of Pulse, Flipboard, and even the recently-launched Yahoo News Digest.

Source: The Verge

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise applications and services. He is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team.

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