As planned, Facebook made it’s major announcement today – Facebook Messages. The poorly kept secret that Facebook was entering into messaging was greeted with mixed response. With Facebook’s extensive reach of approximately 500 million users, many observers believed Facebook Messages could challenge the leading email providers like Google’s Gmail. The early hype of “Gmail killer” may have been overstated, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook engineer Andrew Bosworth explained that their new endeavor, code-named Project Titan, is more than just another emal client.
Facebook Messages is a re-imaging of messaging and a new look at digital communication. It integrates email, instant messaging and text messaging into one ongoing conversation. At the center of the platform is what is described by the company as “seamless messaging”. It’s a system that combines the conventional communication lines. It allows users to communicate via email but if you’re signed into Facebook with Chat open, an incoming email will pop-up in an IM window so it is readily available. When you respond, it is automatically returned as an email. If your friend continues the conversation after you have signed out of Facebook, your message can be pushed to your phone via a Facebook iPhone app (and a likely upcoming Android app).
In addition, Facebook has eliminated the usual email threads and separate chat logs, in favor of a single conversation history it calls the “Social Inbox”. If you’re thinking that a single chat history will lead to a lot of noise, spam, and a generally cluttered inbox, Facebook is using what it knows about your social network to filter priority messages from messages that aren’t immediately registered as spam by Gmail’s Priority Inbox.
I believe the integration of various messaging methods is a big step forward in communication which will be readily accepted by Facebook fans and probably has already caused some emergency strategy sessions at Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and especially Google. Facebook expects to add IMAP email integration so the new service will work with Gmail.
Despite Facebook’s innovative approach, I don’t think it’s a “Gmail killer.” For example, Facebook Messages will eliminate the Subject Line, CC, and BCC (I would imagine because it’s difficult to add to the integrated SMS and IM messages). This alone will be a deal breaker for many users. It is also likely that Facebook Messages will not support HTML messages since it will be integrated with SMS and IM, although we do not have confirmation on this point. If true, users will not be able to send any specially formated messages. Meaning no messages with images or a company banner can be sent through this system. Facebook Messages is clearly designed for social messaging between friends and not for business oriented activities.
Facebook hinted at its future plans on its blog, “Relatively soon, we’ll probably all stop using arbitrary ten digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other. We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly. We aren’t there yet, but the changes today are a small first step.” Facebook Voice anyone?…the Google Voice team will be meeting bright and early tomorrow morning.
According to Zuckerberg, the new Facebook Messages system will be rolled out very slowly over the next couple of months, starting today with an invite-only beta launch. You can request your own invite here at the Facebook Messages page. Check out the Facebook video below.
Let us know what you think of the new Facebook Messages, leave a comment below.
I’m a marketer, plain and simple. I help you get found by your target market and influence them to buy from you. I mainly use digital marketing techniques but I implement offline marketing techniques as well.