According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s plans center on an app called Facebook At Work, which will make its debut for iOS and Android on Jan. 14. The rollout will be small at first, with only a few companies able to use the software, but Facebook will presumably widen the release in coming months.
Visually, Facebook At Work looks almost exactly like Facebook’s “main” Website, although companies will have the ability to place their own logo on the interface. Facebook claimed to the Journal that it won’t retain or track user data from the app, and there will be no advertisements (for now). In theory, the app will allow groups of workers to collaborate in a shared space without needing to resort to email and third-party chat apps.
Facebook’s news could prove devastating for any startups that market social-networking apps for the enterprise. Facebook’s powerful brand gives it instant recognition among companies on the hunt for software that will allow them to collaborate and communicate. But that brand is also something of a double-edged sword, as Facebook is better known as the platform for people who want to share party photos and birthday news, rather than something that’s used for serious work.
Facebook will also face significant competition from Salesforce, Microsoft, and LinkedIn, all of which offer social collaboration for the enterprise. Google will also be a threat, as a rising number of offices rely on its professional software to exchange files and information over the Web.