Four colours, four Facebooks
Do you prefer your Facebook experience in dark blue, light blue, green, or a kind of purple-and-orange fusion?
I was a little baffled by the introduction of four-way video calling
to Instagram when it was first announced. Why would you need another video calling app, and why would it be Instagram? But then it clicked. Facebook’s four main apps are gradually becoming different flavours of the same core offering.
Facebook’s main (dark blue) app is the one for middle-aged and older folks. Messenger (the light blue app) is for people who have convinced themselves they don’t need Facebook, but still want to keep in touch with their friends through it. It’s presented as a messaging app, but with ads, the ability to interact with businesses, commerce, stories, and games, it’s just another way of presenting the Facebook experience.
Then we have Instagram (the purple-orange app). What was once a simple photo- and video-sharing app is now ‘Facebook for kids too cool to use Facebook.’ It’s got stories, messaging, ads, ways to interact with businesses…
Even the green app, WhatsApp (the messaging app for people who really don’t like Facebook but who don’t mind using an app owned by it), has stories, messaging, ads, ways to interact with businesses…
Sure, all four have unique aspects – Instagram has IGTV, Whatsapp has end-to-end encryption etc, but they’re all the same basic app in different clothing. And now three of the four have video calling built in.
It’s a smart strategy by Facebook – stick to the same core offering, but present it in different ways to serve different audiences. If you’re like me, it might also make you question why you’re using all four apps.