Facebook's Zuckerberg: Standalone apps are the plan

The social network plans to build distinct app properties to give users new experiences on mobile.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg James Martin/CNET

Looks like Instagram is the gift that keeps on giving.

Buying the photo sharing service in 2012 for a billion dollars before going public jump started Facebook's transition into mobile, and now, it will be a model for a new direction at Facebook: standalone apps.

The company seeks to build new mobile app offerings that will keep users plugged into Facebook properties. "Our theory is that there are all these different ways people want to communicate," Zuckerberg said, on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday to discuss fourth-quarter earnings. He continued that the goal is to "build a handful of different experiences that people don't think of as Facebook."

During the call, Zuckerberg mentioned different plans for growth over the next ten years. The standalone app initiative is the focus for the immediate future. "The 3-year plan is really all about building all kinds of new experiences for sharing," he said.

The first signs of this new emphasis have been what the company has done with its Messenger app. Facebook separated it from the core mobile app so that users could differentiate it as its own property. "It gets room to breath and blossom," Zuckerberg said.

Having different mobile apps also falls in line with the trend of users wanting to compartmentalize their sharing for different groups. The company even doubled down on private sharing when it introduced direct messages for Instagram in December.

It's easy to see why Facebook would want to head in this direction. In the last quarter, for the first time, the company made the majority of its advertising revenue -- 53 percent -- on mobile. A bigger pie in that sense means more of an opportunity to grow its advertising business.

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