Surprise! Facebook wants to replace yet another service in your day-to-day, this time with Facebook at Work, which has subsisted in closed beta since January of this year. To be clear, Facebook at Work is a communications app, employing the same user interface as the Facebook most of us use to exploit our political biases, but this time your friends list consists exclusively of coworkers.
Now Facebook is reportedly launching it as a full-fledged product, utilizing a freemium business model, later this year, according to Re/Code. A specific release window, however, remains ambiguous.
On the inside, Facebook's employees have been using Facebook for years, head of Facebook at Work Julien Codorniou told Re/Code. Then, nearly 15 months ago, it was revealed that the social media corp was developing an office productivity service for companies outside of Facebook.
How Facebook plans to convert users of existing business communication tools, such as Slack and Yammer, is also unclear. Veteran companies have been using these products for years, with a great deal of archived content at stake, including important messages and internal company documents. Nonetheless, Facebook is going to attempt the unthinkable, though perhaps it's not too farfetched.
Already, over 100 companies subscribe to the Facebook at Work beta, which continues to increase in its install base. And, of course, Facebook plans to make money from the new endeavor, but interestingly isn't opting for ad-based monetization this time around. Instead, like with Slack, a free version will be made available with additional features being issued at a fee, though disinctions between free and paid features are still being defined.
In the process of trying to pique the interest of companies looking to replace their communications utilities, Facebook is likely to make a few enemies along the way. That's because it'll put itself directly in competition with the likes of Slack and Microsoft, the proprietor of Yammer. And with ~$340 million in venture capitalist investments, Slack surely won't budge without a fight.
Current testers of the platform claim that Facebook at Work is characterized by "familiarity," which is among the social media giant's main talking points when trying to sway companies interested in adopting the product. That's because, while it may seem obvious, most of us know the ins and outs of Facebook.
Of course, this goes without saying, many companies will be hesitant to endorse Facebook at Work due to a potential loss in productivity. On the desktop edition of the platform, users will be able to choose between their at-work and at-home Facebook accounts while, on mobile, Facebook at Work exists on its own, as a standalone app.
While it's expected that the modern Silicon Valley-type tech startups will be quick to respond positively to Facebook at Work, it may be more concerning to businesses wary over social media usage by their employees.