Facebook is piloting a smartphone and web app that could finally secure Facebook’s place in the corporate world by improving the way people communicate and collaborate at work.
The app includes all the familiar Facebook tools such as news feeds, groups, messaging and events, but will be kept separate from the outside world and personal Facebook profiles.
While Facebook at Work will not challenge LinkedIn directly, confirmation of the service coincides with news that LinkedIn plans to release a new app to help co-workers share information, according to re/code.
With 1.4 billion people using Facebook at least once a month, companies will be able to switch to Facebook at Work with little or no requirement for training.
Employees at pilot companies will be able to download the Facebook at Work mobile app for iOS and Android or use the web-based version of the service.
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In June 2014, TechCrunch reported that “FB@Work” was being developed at Facebook’s London office, based on the fact everyone at Facebook uses Facebook at Work for communication and planning.
The pilot is aimed at enabling Facebook to iron out any technical problems and refine the service to better meet real-world enterprise communication and collaboration needs.
Facebook at Work has been designed purely for use in individual companies, reports the Guardian.
The collaboration app could provide a valuable new revenue stream for Facebook that is not linked to advertising, but the paper notes that Facebook has not yet indicated if it plans to charge for the service.
Facebook has refused to comment on whether it has plans to include advertising or gather data about its users that could be sold on to third parties, reports the BBC.
Industry pundits say companies are likely to prefer paying a subscription fee for the service to keep it free of advertising and to ensure they keep complete control over the data.
There is no indication yet of when Facebook at Work will be available to all companies, but it reportedly will be distributed through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.