Facebook is prioritising the growth of its non-core apps before thinking about how to monetise them, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Speaking as part of the social network’s first quarter results, Zuckerberg said the current priority for products such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram and its $19 billion acquisition target WhatsApp is to drive growth.
With Messenger and Instagram both passing 200 million active users during the most recent quarter, and WhatsApp just announcing it has 500 million active users, Zuckerberg said: “We believe these apps have a lot of room to grow and will start to be important businesses in the future, but monetisation isn’t our near-term priority here.”
He said the “immediate priority” is to get these titles to a billion users each, before the company focuses on monetisation in the same way as it has done with the core Facebook app.
Facebook has already pledged to run WhatsApp as a separate unit, in a similar way to its work with Instagram – which has seen the photo-sharing app thrive under its new owners.
Turning to Facebook’s Creative Labs, which is building apps to support different ways that people want to connect and share, Zuckerberg said the products are in “very early stages of development” and “probably a few years away from being important businesses for us”.
The first app to emerge from Creative Labs was Paper, which was launched in January and allows users to share content from well-known media companies.
“We’re working hard to develop the technical foundations for these services so that we can rapidly launch new products and then refine them based on the initial feedback from our community,” Zuckerberg added.
Although he emphasised that Facebook is continuing to look at HTML5, the CEO said for “the foreseeable future, we see the best path to continuing to deliver great experiences by working on the native app experiences that we have now”.
Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook’s App Installs product, intended to drive app installs and boost user engagement, has so far driven more than 350 million installs since being launched in January 2013 — with more than 60 per cent of top grossing apps on Apple’s App Store and Google Play using the technology.