Even though Google and Facebook are competitors, the social media giant’s Android products are a big part of the Google Play store, with the Messenger and Facebook apps consistently in the top five applications chart. But with Zuckerberg’s company offering an increasing number of services that compete with Google, what would happen if the Alphabet-owned firm decided it was sick of Facebook stepping on its toes and removed the firm’s apps from its store?
According to a report by The Information, Facebook has been secretly preparing for this scenario for years, and has contingency measures in place that will allow its apps to operate on Android smartphones without having to go through the Google Play store.
The report states that Facebook has been looking at ways to replicate the services you get from its Google Play-enabled apps, such as updates and in-app purchases. It’s also been looking at alternatives to Google maps for location info.
It’s even alleged that Facebook went so far as to perform yet another experiment on its customers by testing Android users’ dependency on the app. Reportedly, the company knowingly introduced glitches that would deliberately crash its applications (for long periods of time) to see whether or not people would use the social media site if they were unable to access it via the native app on Google’s platform. As it turns out, people simply ended up using the mobile web version of the site, rather than stop using Facebook altogether.
Facebook faced a massive backlash last year after it was revealed the company had conducted secret psychological tests on nearly 700,000 users in 2012. These latest revelations of more experiments have resulted in similar criticism from users. Former Facebook data scientist JJ Maxwell defended the tests to The Verge, saying it was the company’s “prerogative” and likened it to Walmart removing parking from their store to test the effect of varying levels of parking on sales.
For all Facebook’s experiments and backup plans, the company’s relationship with Google has never been stronger. Should that suddenly change, however, then Facebook looks like it’ll be ready.