Facebook, the social network with more than 2 billion users worldwide, is cutting standalone mobile applications including its experimental Lifestage app for teens and its Groups app, the latter of which was originally intended to help people manage special-interest groups on the platform, TechCrunch reported.
Lifestage was pulled from the App Store on Aug. 4, a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. The app, created by Facebook employee Michael Sayman, was intended to help teens connect with classmates and was largely seen as an early bid to compete with Snapchat.
In announcing the closure of Groups, Facebook said its main app could be improved to provide a better experience for users who participate in groups. The Groups app was introduced in 2014 for the iOS and Android platforms, and will cease to function after Sept. 1, the company said. Group administrators can use the main app to manage their memberships.
Facebook's decision to pare down its number of standalone apps is another way to keep users engaged within its main social networking app, where it can focus its marketing efforts to sell ad space. The "teens-only" Lifestage app was created partly in response to the growing threat from Snapchat, whose audience of millennials and teenagers appealed to advertisers. Snapchat's audience currently consists of 166 million people. But by limiting the audience to people under age 21, Lifestage had to continually renew its user base and failed to become a hit.
Facebook has also been more successful countering Snapchat's threat by adding more features to Instagram including the lookalike Instagram Stories. Instagram's user base has grown to 700 million, including 250 million daily active users of Instagram Stories. Facebook is also seeking more ways to monetize Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as its main app reaches a saturation point for ads. The company has longer-term plans to ramp up its video content to hold on to users who watch movies, TV shows, webisodes and vlogs on other platforms.
The Facebook Groups app showed signs of neglect with a growing number of bugs, TechCrunch reported. The app also didn't have a News Feed that separated Group posts from Page updates and status updates. It also had no universal search across groups, and no way to organize groups into user-friendly collections. Facebook has dropped unpopular apps in the past. With the shutdown of its internal incubator Creative Labs in December 2015, Facebook also cut photo-sharing app Slingshot, anonymous chat app Rooms and collaborative video app Riff.