Facebook to shut off mobile app messaging, forcing switch to Messenger

Facebook is turning off the messaging feature in its mobile app, forcing users to download the standalone Facebook Messenger app.

For those in Europe, the shut down will take place in two weeks time, with the rest of the world following in the near future.

According to the Verge, the Messages button will remain in the app, but will simple boot users over to Messenger.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Verge that there will be exceptions to the shut down. Those with low-end Android phones, Windows Phone users, and those on tablets will still be able to message in the Facebook app itself.

In an interview with TechCrunch in November, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the fragmentation as a way towards stronger, cleaner products. “We found that having [messaging]as a second-class thing inside the Facebook app makes it so there’s more friction to replying to messages, so we would rather have people be using a more focused experience for that.”

The move is part of a broader strategy away from one core, fully-featured app. Zuckerberg touched on the company’s new mobile approach during a January earnings call when he said “Our vision for Facebook is to create a set of products that help you share any kind of content you want with any audience you want.”

In February, Facebook launched the standalone Paper, a news app highlighting content from Facebook’s favourite publishers.

photo by: TechCrunch

Facebook goes virtual, purchases Oculus VR for $2 billion

Facebook has purchased Oculus VR, makers of the virtual reality headset, for $2 billion in cash and stock.

The acquisition is a departure from the company’s traditional focus on social platforms, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeks out new avenues for online connectivity.

“We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

A new communication platform

Initially pitched as a gaming platform, those involved have a much broader vision for the virtual reality headset. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” said Zuckerberg.

“This is a special moment for the gaming industry,” said Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. “Oculus’ somewhat unpredictable future just became crystal clear: virtual reality is coming, and it’s going to change the way we play games forever.”

Though still unavailable for consumer use, and not slated to arrive on shelves until 2015, Oculus VR says that over 75, 000 game developers, content creators and artists have ordered their development kit.

Grassroots Backlash

The deal with Facebook has angered some of Oculus’ initial Kickstarter supporters, many of whom have taken to the comments page to express their frustration and disappointment. “I feel cheated,” supporter Grant Wilkinson wrote. ”I backed a vision of what I wanted gaming to be in the future. Now all I want is my money back. Bad move Palmer.”

News of the acquisition has also scuttled plans to bring Minecraft to the new VR platform. “I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook,” said Markus Perrsson, owner of Mojang, the company responsible for the brick-building game. “Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.”