Facebook just announced the formation of a New Product Experimentation (NPE) team to design and launch specialty apps. These applications, from games to cryptocurrency, are meant to provide “entirely new experiences” for users.
Their official statement, via a Facebook spokesperson: “In the coming weeks, Facebook will begin to launch new consumer-focused apps under the developer name NPE Team.”
The team is set up to encourage creativity, allowing employees to make quick fixes or even delete apps if they don’t succeed. The Facebook NPE Team website states, “We believe building without fear of failure is the only way to achieve success” and “Starting small is the best way to make the biggest discoveries.”
Facebook’s spent the last few years in privacy scandals and has decreased in popularity among younger users. This led the company to purchase a photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp. Until now, the company hasn’t developed any popular apps itself.
Facebook previously ran a startup-like initiative from 2013 to 2015, Creative Labs, that produced newsroom app Paper and messaging services Slingshot and Rooms — but all were shut down after lackluster reception.
Though the website has 2.38 billion monthly active users, Facebook hasn’t quite proven itself when it comes to secondary apps or feature development. The company is planning to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra in 2020 and hopes to integrate it as a payment method for their new apps — likely an incentive for the NPE Team’s creation.
The team will be made up of engineers, designers, and product managers, but Facebook hasn’t said how large it will be, or who’s supervising it. Apps will be limited to certain countries, and may not be widely distributed.
As far as a youth audience is concerned, future NPE Team apps will require users to be “at least 13 years old, just like Facebook” a Facebook spokesperson tells Parentology. Since the project is still in early development, there’s no information yet on a specific family or community-building focus.
Facebook’s terms of service and data collection policy will apply to the apps released by the team, but that may not be a good sign. The social network is currently under investigation for harvesting user data without permission. Businesses use this data to target advertising, which many users have found eerily invasive.
The data collection might be to Facebook’s advantage, though, when it comes to creating successful apps. Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told CNET app development “will take a real understanding of the specific type of customer they want to reach,” as well as superior design and execution.
There’s no doubt Facebook’s trying to expand and dominate not just social media, but every market possible, including gaming, cryptocurrency and instant messaging. If this NPE Team is successful, the social media giant may be one step closer to dominating the digital world.