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article imageFacebook kills Creative Labs, pulls apps from stores

By James Walker     Dec 9, 2015 in Technology
Facebook has quietly closed down its Creative Labs group designed to give potential ideas for standalone apps a breathing space within the company. Apps released by Creative Labs have failed to become popular, forcing Facebook to reconsider.
It's common for technology companies to create a community in which employees can sit down and produce apps away from their usual work. Facebook's Creative Labs was designed to feel like a start-up company where employees could go to build innovative app ideas into fully-fledged, release-worthy products.
Since its formation, Slingshot, Riff and Rooms have all made it out of the Labs. Slingshot allowed users to share photos and videos with friends who responded in kind but never became popular enough to compete with social services like Snapchat.
Rooms and Riff were based around similar ideas of quick and easy content sharing but also failed to attract consumer interest. As of Monday, all three apps are now gone from the App Store and Google Play. The Creative Labs website has also been closed down.
Facebook confirmed to CNET that Creative Labs is gone for good. The projects were stagnating so were no longer worth the resources needed to maintain them. The company claims it has "incorporated elements" of Slingshot, Riff and Rooms into its core Facebook app for iOS and Android devices.
Some of Creative Labs' other products have been more popular. Paper, a Flipboard-style news aggregator for the Facebook News Feed, has gained a small following who regularly frequent the app. Facebook doesn't want to spend on advertising for apps that are proving to be unpopular in the market though, leading to the shutdown of Slingshot and Riff. Rooms will also close on December 23.
Facebook is still committed to allowing employees to experiment with ideas and will continue to innovate in the future. Instagram, now owned by Facebook, now maintains several spin-off apps including Hyperlapse and the recently-launched Boomerang, indicating the company is willing to try out standalone apps if an audience can be found.
CNET notes Facebook is known for its "move fast and break things" mantra. During its two-year life, Creative Labs invented some quirky smartphone apps but none of them really took off. This has led Facebook to call it a day and shut down the initiative.
Other technology firms still actively support their own app incubators. Last year, Microsoft relaunched the Garage, a project designed to give its employees access to its resources so they can make their own ideas a reality. Elsewhere, Google is known for its "20 percent time" initiative in which employees are encouraged to spend a day a week working on something outside of their job description, whether it be fixing something broken or building an all-new product.
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