Facebook: There Are Too Many Apps for That

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Mark Zuckerberg and his minions team at Facebook have never been ones to follow the trends, and that, in some ways, has led to the unprecedented success they have had since the monolithic social network came online. But as their bottom line has increased, they have often confused the living hell out of Web users and nerds with their seemingly haphazard approach to privacy and mobile technology.

The prior has created a lot of cyber handwringing but no real nefarious results. The latter has led to similar levels of consternation among tech observers, but, in this case, their concerns are on target. With mobile platforms and usage growing exponentially and showing no signs of slowing down, Facebook's strategy of multiple apps for handling various tasks is, well, moronic.

The Facebook main app is not great. It's okay and certainly far better than it was a year ago, but there are still tremendous shortcomings and bugs galore. Understandably, it is difficult to take a massive, layered site like Facebook and transform it into a mobile application that is fast and user-friendly, but rather than constant improvement to its primary app -- updates are generally few and far between -- they have simply released other apps for different purposes.

The first was Facebook Messenger, an app that allows users to control all Facebook messages in one location. This is okay if all I want to see are messages or if I want to do my chatting via a Facebook app. I don't and I would wager I'm not alone. In this instance, it feels as if Facebook simply discounts the use of texting and various other forms of instant messaging, assuming users will flock to use just their platform. I'd bet against it.

Next up was the recent release of Facebook Camera. As you might have guessed, it consolidates photos from you and your friends. The interface is sleek and probably the best I've seen from Facebook, but it ignores the fact that there are already numerous camera apps out there that allow seamless integration with Facebook.

Finally, there is the brand-new Facebook Pages. It has yet to be released in the United States, but it promises to help users manage their various pages, something that has grown substantially over the past two years, which begs the question: Why isn't this integrated into their primary app?

Here's the crux of the problem: Unlike a tabbed browser where switching back and forth between Web sites is simple, going back and forth between apps on a smartphone is a pain, and having multiple apps to manage the functionality for a single social networking platform is staggeringly limiting.

This strategy of spewing out a slew of apps to manage the complexities of what amounts to a single Web site ignores the way smartphones function and imagines a world where its users are ping-ponging back and forth between numerous apps when all they really need is one. It's difficult to comprehend what the clearly brilliant minds at the social giant are thinking when it comes to their mobile strategy. For a long time, it seemed they were happy to simply ignore the technology platform, and now it appears they have adopted the theory that if they throw enough darts at the board, one has got to hit the center.

Maybe they know something about mobile technology the rest of us don't. Chances are, they don't and they just think everyone will continue to use the platform because, well, everyone else does. If Google hadn't been so inept in its development of Google+, Facebook might have competition and be forced to deliver user-friendly options we've all hoped they would for years. As for now, they continue to do whatever they want, however they want and we're stuck with it.

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Michael Coppens
Michael Coppens

I saw a comment on a story about Facebook Camera that suggested this approach, the multitude of Facebook apps, was the right idea because, like you suggest, Facebook cannot put everything into one app.

Facebook Camera is nice, but it's unfinished until they fully integrate Instagram into the Facebook platform. I only use Facebook Messenger when I need to remove myself from some annoying message string. Haven't used Pages enough, but it's not impressed me.

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