The move is intended to ensure that users have a
consistent and high-quality experience, a Facebook spokesman
told Reuters. The free, standalone Messenger app is faster than
the messaging service that's currently built into Facebook's
primary mobile app. Facebook users can also access more features
in the Messenger app, such as the ability to make voice phone
"We have built a fast and reliable messaging experience through
Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy
and resources on that experience," the company said in a
Facebook faces increasing competition from a new crop of
fast-growing mobile messaging apps, such as Snapchat and Line.
It stunned observers by announcing plans in February to buy the
popular WhatsApp messaging app for $19 billion.
Forcing users to install a separate messaging app on their
phones could help boost the popularity of Facebook Messenger,
but could also cause a backlash if consumers view Facebook's
move as heavy-handed. A post on the technology blog Mashable on
Wednesday was titled "11 Reasons why Pulling Messenger From
Facebook Mobile is a Terrible Idea," and many people took to
Twitter to post critical comments about the change.
Facebook, the world's No.1 social networking service with 1.2
billion users, has increasingly moved to develop a catalog of
standalone apps to complement its main app. In January, Facebook
launched Paper, a photo-heavy news-reading app that has earned
Facebook also acquired photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012 and
announced plans to buy WhatsApp, which has more than 450 million
users. News of the change in Facebook's messaging service was
first reported by the technology blog TechCrunch on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic;
editing by Bernard Orr)
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