Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) says it will discontinue the messaging feature in its app for iPhone and Android devices “within the next few days” throughout the United States. Users of its mobile app will have to download a separate one, Messenger, if they want to continue using the social network’s chat service.
Facebook said the unbundling would help Messenger offer a better experience for users. Users will have one week to download the new app once they are notified.
"Our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences,” Facebook said in a statement.
While the Facebook app was, until now, capable of sending and receiving text messages, the Messenger app is capable of voice and video calls, exchanging picture and short video messages, and group chats. Facebook first began making the change in April, which does not affect users on desktop browsers.
Messenger currently has 200 million monthly active users, less than a third of the 654 million who use Facebook regularly on mobile devices. The move, while stemming confusion, will also have the added effect of increasing the number of Messenger users -- which will eventually be an “important business” for the social network, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
“Last month we announced that David Marcus will be joining us from PayPal to lead our messaging efforts,” Zuckerberg said during a call to discuss the company’s quarterly earnings last week. “We expect David to continue growing Messenger, building out new experiences to serve our community and ultimately to build Messenger into an important business.”
He also mentioned a Paypal-style payment feature might be on the way for Messenger as Facebook looks to profit from the app. The social network’s rapid growth in mobile advertising caused its stock to jump from $71.30 to $75.98 when it announced second quarter earnings last Thursday. It has since receded to a little less than $75 as of Tuesday.
Facebook's purchase of Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift, closed last Tuesday. The company is now on a hiring spree as it works on new features for a consumer version of the virtual reality headset.