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Facebook closes Creative Labs, an experimental division that produced unpopular apps

FILE - In this March 25, 2015, file photo, Mark Zuckerberg talks about the Messenger app during the Facebook F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco. Facebook reports quarterly financial results on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
AP Photo/Eric Risberg,
Easy come, easy go.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Here’s a chart showing the total number of downloads on iOS and Android for Slingshot, Facebook’s Snapchat copycat app:

Here’s one for its chat room app, Rooms:

And one for Riff, a crowdsourced-video app:

In each case, interest in the app peaked shortly after its release, and then quickly dropped off afterward.

And now Facebook appears to have lost interest in the division that created them. The company has shut down its Creative Labs experimental arm and pulled the three aforementioned apps from app stores. Slingshot and Riff will still be usable for those who already have downloaded the app, but Rooms will be shut down and put in read-only mode on Dec. 23.

Facebook had previously insisted that its Creative Labs apps, which received little promotion from the social network, weren’t beholden to growth targets.

“The whole point of Creative Labs is to learn,” a company spokesperson told Quartz in July. “The core goal isn’t mass adoption.”

And though the mass adoption never happened, some learning seems to have occurred—Facebook said in a statement that it “incorporated elements of Slingshot, Riff and Rooms into the Facebook for iOS and Android apps.” But the company hadn’t updated the individual apps “in some time and we’ve decided to officially end support by removing them from the App Store and Google Play.”

Of all the Creative Labs apps, Paper—a news reader and the first app to come from the division—has seen the most success, amassing 1.4 million downloads from its launch in early 2014 to Dec. 5, according to data from Sensor Tower. Paper remains in the Facebook app portfolio, but its recent performance has been sluggish. Over the past week, it has not exceeded 300 downloads per day.

Despite the shutdown of Creative Labs, there aren’t indications that Facebook is abandoning its multiple-app strategy. Layout, an app from Instagram for organizing multiple photos in a single image, is one of the breakout hits from the Facebook portfolio, with more than 58 million downloads since its release in March. It continues to go strong with an average of more than 200,000 daily downloads in November.

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