Facebook has decided to launch a new limited liability company called NPE Team, which will build community focused apps. Short for New Product Experimentation Team, the spinoff company will experiment with new ideas, as the name implies.
Facebook is the most popular social network out there and a recent report claims that its main app, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp are one of the most downloaded apps across iOS and Android smartphones. Out of these, only Facebook and the accompanying Messenger apps were originally made by the company, and Instagram and WhatsApp were acquired from other developers.
Since the bar is set so high, giving freedom to a new team to experiment with ideas and churn out apps under the name "NPE Team, from Facebook,'' will give some ease of mind to developers, and help them take risks without having to worry about failures.
In fact, the social media giant has said that consumers should expect the apps from the new company to change rapidly and they might even be shut down if it appears that they aren't useful. Facebook has made it clear that it expects many failures, so expectations have been set low already. Keeping the experimental apps separate from the Facebook apps will also help minimize disruption.
As mentioned before, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as this allows developers to concentrate more on the ideas they have instead of worrying about their impact on the market or the affect failures will have on the core Facebook brand.
Creating focused apps will also allow Facebook to find out which features people find useful and engaging. The company said that it will use what it learns to improve its product strategy. Facebook hasn't revealed the size of the NPE team and who will govern it. The team consists of small teams made up of product managers, designers, and engineers.
Facebook has tried something similar before in the past with its Creative Labs that encouraged developers to come up with new ideas. It lasted two years before being disbanded, and the apps released under the initiative, including messaging services Slingshot and Rooms, were shut down because they failed to attract interest.
Other standalone apps released by the company include the TikTok-inspired Lasso, anonymous app TBH and the fitness tracking app Moves. None of them really took off.
The NPE team will be managed according to Facebook's data policy and terms of services. The company says it will also be possible to connect some of the apps to users' Facebook account. Some of the apps will be free, while some of them might also come with in-app purchases. The social media company further said that while some of the apps will be distributed widely, some will be restricted to certain geographic locations.
Facebook also hasn't said what kind of apps will be built by the NPE Team. The first wave of apps are expected to arrive next week and they will be available in the Google Play store and Apple's App Store, as well as on the web.