3 Flops from Facebook (and 1 from Twitter)

Messages screenshot
Messages screenshot

Facebook is moving its messaging feature out of its core iPhone and Android apps into separate Messenger apps. Will this permanently change how we communicate? Perhaps not. Let’s reflect on how some past, highly touted introductions by the social network (and a competitor to it) flamed out.

1. Facebook Messages
In late 2010, Facebook announced a sweeping upgrade to its proprietary messaging system. “We don’t think a modern messaging system is going to be email,” founder Mark Zuckerberg said at the time. This new system would have Facebook ranking incoming messages by senders’ relationships to you and doing away with many other established email features, such as subject lines.

And then Messages became known as “that weird system where messages from strangers vanished in an ‘Other’ inbox.”

Facebook dragged this entire idea to the Trash folder earlier this year, announcing that it would now switch to forwarding emails sent to your old @facebook.com address to your primary non-Facebook email address.

Read more: Facebook May Be Addicted to Apps, but You Don’t Have to Be

2. Facebook Credits
Few things speak confidence (or is it arrogance?) like inventing your own virtual currency. That’s what Facebook set out to do in early 2011 when it told developers of Facebook-hosted games that they’d have to handle all transactions for virtual goods in Facebook Credits.

Not even a year and a half later, Facebook was giving up on the idea, allowing developers once again to accept payments in the local currency of their choice.

Facebook wasn’t the only company that tried this. It followed Microsoft’s attempt to establish its own online currency. And Microsoft was a lot more obnoxious with “Microsoft Points,” selling them in minimum allotments higher than the individual cost of such digital goods as songs on the Zune Marketplace.

3. Facebook Graph Search
A year and a half ago, Facebook rolled out a long-awaited upgrade to its search that was supposed to become a potent rival to Google’s search. But this “Graph Search” at first didn’t index some of the more relevant content on Facebook — as in, the text of people’s status updates — and subsequent upgrades have also suffered from the awkward reality that not all of your Facebook friends know what they’re talking about.

And it still can’t find some things: Queries to find the Spotify playlist that one friend posted on his Facebook feed turn up nothing. I should just email Scott to ask for the link … and by “email,” I mean real email, not Facebook’s messaging system.

Bonus: Twitter Music
Last April, Twitter announced “a new service that will change the way people find music.” This #music service and its accompanying iOS app aimed to “detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists,” based on people’s activity on Twitter.

Well, #music landed in the #cutoutbin in less than a year after key people left and listeners didn’t tune in as hoped. In March, Twitter announced that it was removing its app from the App Store and would silence installed copies on April 18.

Email Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com; follow him on Twitter at @robpegoraro.