Earlier in the year, Facebook separated Messenger from the main Facebook application into a new app. When you tapped the chat symbol, the Facebook main application took the user to the Messenger application, or prompted them to download and install it. The effect was quite traumatic for some people; heavy Facebook users who had run out of space on their homescreens faced a difficult dilemma. What application would be removed from their homescreen? At the time, it seems logical enough as to why Facebook would divorce the Messenger application from the main application: there were rumors that Facebook would be including new functionality into the messaging application including voice calling, but it would be easier and simpler to include these into a separate application for the purposes of rolling out new features. We hoped that it would accelerate the Facebook application, too, by having the messaging features shunted to the side. Indeed, a Facebook spokesperson alluded, "Once the whole process is complete, we expect the core apps to be faster."
We've now seen the official reason from Mark Zuckerberg and to abbreviate his remarks, the reason is because they wanted to give users a better experience. His belief is that on a mobile device, an application is only good for one task rather than several tasks. As such, the Facebook application is designed and built around the News Feed and in order to access the messages, users needed to wait for the News Feed to reload every time they wanted to use Messaging was causing friction and not a great user experience. Mark also alluded that messaging is one of the few things that people do on their smartphones more than use social networks, citing that in some countries, 85% of people are on Facebook whereas 95% of people use SMS or messaging applications. His final remark is that he has some of his most talented people working on Facebook Messenger.
It's clear that Facebook consider instant messages to be a critical part of their business strategy going forwards. The Whatsapp deal gives about 19 billion reasons and looking back at the split between Facebook and Facebook Messenger, it seems much less of an issue now. But over to our readers: did the split between these applications cause homescreen friction? Did you drop Facebook? Do you not use Facebook so it was not an issue for you either way? Hit us up in the comments below.