- Almost no-one is using two new apps built by Facebook.
- Aux and Bump are apps launched in August by NPE Team, Facebook’s new team dedicated to building experimental new apps.
- The apps, which are only available to users in Canada and the Philippines, have a few thousand downloads between them, according to app analysis firm Apptopia.
- Facebook has previously cautioned that NPE’s products may not all be successes and could be quickly shut down if so.
- The usage data highlights Facebook’s longstanding struggles creating new hit apps in-house, as opposed to acquiring popular products like Instagram and WhatsApp.
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Two experimental new apps from Facebook have thus far failed to build much of an audience, with only a few thousand downloads each.
NPE Team is a new team from the Silicon Valley tech giant dedicated to quickly building and launching experimental new apps outside of the company’s core social media business. Since its formation in July 2019, it has launched three products, the most recent last Friday — but its first two have yet to see any significant adoption.
In data shared with Business Insider, app industry analysis firm Apptopia estimated that Aux, a school-focused collaborative DJ app, has had a little less than 2,000 downloads total since it launched on August 3.
And Bump, an anonymous local chat app that went live on August 14, has had around 1,500 downloads to date.
When Facebook launched NPE Team, it stressed that these new products were more experimental than Facebook’s core apps like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — and that there’s no guarantee that they’d be hits. “NPE Team apps will be aligned with Facebook’s mission of giving people the power to build community but will focus on shipping entirely new experiences,” the company wrote in a blog post at the time. “We decided to use this separate brand name to help set the appropriate expectations with users that NPE Team apps will change very rapidly and will be shut down if we learn that they’re not useful to people.”
A Facebook spokesperson said that the NPE Team label allowed the company’s developers to get creative with ideas without having to worry about impacting billions of people. Even if there’s not wholesale adoption of a new app from NPE, Facebook may still be able to learn from it — and it’s still early days for the team.
It’s not clear whether Facebook has invested resources in actively promoting the apps after they were launched. And it’s worth noting that the apps are only available in Canada and the Philippines, limiting their total addressable market.
Still, the Apptopia data provides a window into the consumer reception to Facebook’s new apps thus far — and indicates that none of the ideas are significantly resonating with ordinary app users yet.
Facebook has struggled to produce new hit products in-house beyond its flagship social networking app, and Messenger, its related messaging app. Instagram and WhatsApp, two of Facebook’s most popular apps, were acquired by Facebook. But Facebook’s ability to create new apps that can attract and retain users is likely to play an important role in the company’s future as growing regulatory scrutiny constrains its ability to acquire independent products.
“It is tough to accurately estimate apps that don’t consistently rank. However, that fact is telling in itself. These apps are seeing low levels of downloads,” Apptopia’s VP of insights and global alliances, Adam Blacker, wrote in an email. “Facebook is clearly not running user acquisition campaigns for these apps. Facebook is trying to see if one of these catches fire organically, that’s a winner. By spinning up a bunch of them, they’re hoping at least one hits.”
On November 15, NPE Team launched its third app — Whale, a meme-creating tool that’s only available on iOS in Canada. (The Information was first to report on its launch.)
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