Facebook is set to remove some of the messaging features from its main smartphone app in order to drive take-up of its standalone Messenger product.
According to Reuters, the company has already begun notifying users in France, UK and “several other European countries”, with the intention of rolling this out internationally in an unspecified timeframe.
Facebook said in a statement that it has built “a fast and reliable messaging experience through Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy and resources on that experience”.
The Messenger app will also provide customers with access to additional features that are not available through the messaging tab of the main Facebook app, such as group chat.
Interestingly, the move to bolster Messenger will see it becoming more of a competitor to WhatsApp, the messaging market leader which Facebook is buying in a $19 billion deal.
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.
Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said the company is looking to spin-out more features from Facebook into separate apps, trumpeting a 70 per cent increase in the use of Messenger in the quarter.
Users with Messenger already installed alongside the core Facebook app could select to make Messenger the preferred method for interactions, with the Messages tab in Facebook linking between the two titles.
The mandating of Messenger to exchange Facebook messages is believed to apply to Android and iOS – and excludes iPad users. The company released Messenger for Windows Phone recently.