Get all set for a flood of brand-new Facebook apps. The social networks giant stated Tuesday it’s developed a group, referred to as New Product Experimentation, to create, develop and release apps that provide individuals “entirely new experiences for building community.” The apps might vary from video games to service tools.
Facebook is real estate the group in a brand-new minimal liability business, the NPE Team. The structure will motivate more experimentation, enabling staff members to rapidly modify apps and even shut them down if they stop working to measure up to expectations, Facebook stated.
The brand-new apps will consist of the designer name, “NPE Team from Facebook.” Some apps might be complimentary, while others may provide in-app purchases, Facebook stated. Apps are anticipated to strike Apple’s App Store and the Google Play shop, in addition to the web, in the coming weeks.
“Oftentimes starting small is the best way to make the biggest discoveries,” the business stated on the NPE Team site. “We believe building without fear of failure is the only way to achieve success.”
The production of the brand-new group highlights Facebook’s efforts to establish functions and services beyond its primary social media network, which has actually been involved in a series of personal privacy and security scandals and has a hard time to draw in teenagers in the United States. Outside of its primary service and its Messenger app, Facebook has actually stopped working to establish popular apps by itself. The social media network bought the Instagram photo-sharing app and the WhatsApp messaging service. The business likewise effectively copied Snapchat’s Stories function, enabling users to publish videos and pictures that disappear within 24 hours.
Apps developed by the NPE team might serve as a proving ground for Facebook, giving the social network a sense of what features excite its 2.38 billion monthly active users, many of whom are wary of change, before the company invests heavily in them. It could also help Facebook create a market for its planned Libra cryptocurrency, which it’s launching with partners in 2020, if it’s integrated as a payment method for in-app upgrades. Facebook is building a digital wallet for storing the currency and said it’s too soon to tell if new apps will accept Libra.
It’s an open question whether the standalone strategy will work. For two years, Facebook ran a startup-like initiative called Creative Labs that encouraged employees to experiment. It created the news-reading app Paper, ephemeral messaging service Slingshot and group messaging app Rooms. None of those services gained traction with users and Facebook shuttered those apps. The social network quietly wound down the informal effort in 2015. Separately, Facebook launched a TikTok competitor called Lasso, but the app hasn’t caught on with teens.
“It is not a slam dunk that (Facebook) can come up with apps that drive new services,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “That will take a real understanding of the specific type of customer they want to reach and how well it is designed and executed.”
NPE apps may not be distributed widely, Facebook said, and some would be limited to certain countries depending on the service. Facebook wouldn’t say how large the NPE team will be or who will oversee the group. The team includes smaller groups made up of engineers, product managers and designers. It will sit within the organization overseen by Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer.
Facebook said data collection will vary depending on the app. Some apps could allow users to sign in through their Facebook accounts.
The social network already collects troves of information on its users, which businesses use to target advertising. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook after revelations surfaced that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million users without their permission.
Facebook’s terms of service and data policy will apply to the apps released by the NPE team. The company will also be releasing “supplemental terms” for the team in the coming weeks before the new apps launch.
Originally published July 9, 8:46 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:28 p.m.: Includes analyst comment.
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