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Meta’s NPE Team Continues to Shift Focus with the Shutdown of Another Experimental App

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Meta's NPE Team Continues to Shift Focus with the Shutdown of Another Experimental App


Meta continues to reformat its New Product Experimentation (NPE) team, which, up till now, has been working on various experimental apps, with the shut down of another NPE project.

Dating app ‘Sparked’, which enables users to hold 4-minute video chats with potential matches in order to better decide on their suitability before moving forward, is the latest NPE app to be cut from the rotation, as Meta seeks new avenues for development of its tools.

Evidently, Sparked never truly caught on, and Meta is now cutting its losses, and removing support for the project, with any learnings, you would assume, to be integrated into its broader Facebook Dating project.

Sparked users have been informed that the app will shut down for good on January 20th, with users able to download their information from the app till then.

As noted, Meta has been working to re-align the focus of its NPE team, which has released a swathe of apps over the past two years as it sought to tap into the latest user trends, and get ahead of the next big thing.

Seemingly, none of those experiments worked, with the full list of the NPE team’s apps reflecting the ebbs and flows of online fads throughout the period.

  • Super, a Cameo-like platform for connecting with celebrities, which appears to be no longer available
  • Hotline, a social audio app in the vein of Clubhouse which launched in beta last April, but has since been removed
  • Forecast, which aimed to facilitate crowd-sourced predictions, was launched in June 2020, then shut down in October last year
  • Venue, a live sports engagement app was launched in May 2020, and shut down sometime last year
  • CatchUp, to facilitate phone calls between friends who are up for a chat, launched in May 2020 and is now gone from the App Store
  • Collab, for music collaborations via short video clips launched in May 2020 and will shut down this March.
  • Kit, which provided expanded messaging options via Apple Watch, is now gone from the app store
  • Hobbi, which provided a way to collect images of creative hobbies, and sort them into boards lasted just six months
  • Whale, a meme creation tool, quietly launched in November 2019, lasted till just recently, based on reported updates.
  • AUX, a participatory DJ app also didn’t make it
  • Bump, a chat app, also failed to hold its place

In fact, of the thirteen experimental apps launched by the NPE team since November 2019, only two still remain active – rap creation app ‘Bars’ is still in the App Store, along with ‘Tuned’, a messaging app for couples. The track record here likely suggests they also won’t be long for this world.

Meta announced last month that the NPE team would be shifting its focus to building with and for communities that have “historically been overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued by our industry”. The idea here is that while the latest broad-scale trends can drive greater app adoption, there are many areas where new use cases and functionalities are evolving, which may not have as broad appeal, but could lead to significant new shifts.

As per NPE:

“We’re expanding from our current US footprint to build with and for communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and scaling what works there across the globe. Right now, the increase of global connectivity and falling cost of experimentation have created new opportunities. During this next era, anyone with a design mindset, wherever they are, can quickly see that rapid experimentation overrides received wisdom, and adapt. We need to be more intentional about building with proximity to how the world looks today, and how it’s going to look tomorrow. In time, this is how we’ll learn to identify universal experiences.”

Evidently, part of this will see the group clearing the slate, in order to re-focus on these new projects. How exactly that will look, and whether these new experiments will be any more successful, or valuable in the long term, remains to be seen, but it’s interesting to see Meta shutting down these past experiments, which, at one time, had seemingly held significant enough promise for exploration.

Does that flag an end to Meta’s trend-chasing, and working to fend off potential competition in the space? Maybe Meta’s now moving away from copycatting, and instead turning to the future, with projects more focused on the next stage of connection – i.e. the metaverse.

The new focus, which also includes new offices for the team in Lagos and Asia, could be a big shift, and it’ll be interesting to see how these new collaborations and partnerships evolve over time.

But if you’re keen to test out your rap skills, I’d download ‘Bars’ pretty soon.





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17 Content Options for Each Stage of the Sales Journey [Infographic]

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17 Content Options for Each Stage of the Sales Journey [Infographic]

Looking to formulate a better content strategy for 2023?

This will help – the team from Orbit Media has put together a listing of 17 content formats, and where they fit within the sales funnel which could provide some inspiration for your planning.

There are some good pointers here, with specific approaches that you can take at each stage of the journey.

Check out the full listing below – while you can read more on the Orbit Media website.

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Meta Soars by Most in Decade, Adding $100 Billion in Value

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Meta Soars by Most in Decade, Adding $100 Billion in Value

Correction: February 2, 2023 This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated how much Meta expected to spend on its deal with the virtual reality start-up Within. It is $400 million, not $400 billion. Meta’s stock surged on Thursday …

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

Well, this is certainly problematic.

Twitter has announced that, as of February 9th, it’s cutting off free access to its API, which is the access point that many, many apps, bot accounts, and other tools use to function.

That means that a heap of Twitter analytics apps, management tools, schedulers, automated updates – a range of key info and insight options will soon cease to function. Which seems like the sort of thing that, if you were Twitter, you’d want to keep on your app.

But that’s not really how Twitter 2.0 is looking to operate – in a bid to rake in as much revenue as absolutely possible, in any way that it can, Twitter will now look to charge all of these apps and tools. But most, I’d hazard a guess, will simply cease to function.

The bigger business apps already pay for full API access – your Hootsuite’s and your Sprout Social’s – so they’ll likely be unaffected. But it could stop them from offering free plans, which would have a big impact on their business models.

The announcement follows Twitter’s recent API change which cut off a heap of Twitter posting tools, in order, seemingly, to stop users accessing the platform through a third-party UI. 

Now, even more Twitter tools will go extinct, a broad spread of apps and functions that contribute to the real-time ecosystem that Twitter has become. Their loss, if that’s what happens, will have big impacts on overall Twitter activity.

On the other hand, some will see this as another element in Twitter’s crackdown on bots, which Twitter chief Elon Musk has made a personal mission to eradicate. Musk has taken some drastic measures to kill off bots, some of which are having an impact, but Musk himself has also admitted that such efforts are reducing overall platform engagement

This, too, could be a killer in this respect

It’ll also open the door to Twitter competitors, as many automated update apps will switch to other platforms. This relates to things like updates on downtime from video games, weather apps, and more. There are also tools like GIF generators and auto responders – there’s a range of tools that could now look for a new home on Mastodon, or some other Twitter replicant. 

In this respect, it seems like a flawed move, which is also largely ignorant of how the developer community has facilitated Twitter’s growth. 

But Elon and Co. are going to do things their own way, whether outside commentators agree or not – and maybe this is actually a path to gaining new Twitter data customers, and boosting the company’s income. 

But I doubt it.

If there are any third-party Twitter apps that you use, it’ll be worth checking in to see if they’re impacted before next week.



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