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Facebook unveils next-generation messaging service

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

¬†Facebook Inc. launched a “next generation” messaging service Monday for its 500 million members, a move that could make the social-networking site the largest Internet messaging provider and challenge rivals such as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The new service, which will provide users with an “@facebook.com” email address, is designed to meld email, instant messaging and SMS text messages so that users can manage their communications through a single in-box.

“This is not a Gmail killer. This is a messaging system that includes email as a part of it,” said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

The company was launching the new service because many young users don’t use email because it is too slow and formal, he said. The company unveiled its new messaging service at an event in San Francisco.

Zuckerberg said the service, which has been under development for about one year, will also maintain users’ conversation histories so that members can keep track of the communications they have had.

The service will also feature a “social in-box” that filters messages from people who aren’t part of a user’s social circle.

“We can do some really good filtering for you because we know who your friends are,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook members will be able to send and receive email, instant messages and text messages seamlessly through their Facebook in-boxes. Users can choose to send messages in their prefered format, whether it be a text or email. When a person replies to an incoming message, the system will automatically send the response in the same format in which the initial message was received.

“Ignore that a given friend or family member prefers SMS or email or chat–just send the message your way and he or she will receive it their way,” said Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray.”Facebook’s new messaging further reinforces Facebook’s place not as a replacement for the Web but as the digital tool for facilitating real-world friendships.”

Facebook’s new service, which will be rolled out over the next several months, could fundamentally transform email by melding messaging functions with people’s social connections to provide a more personal and intuitive experience. Facebook would have a huge advantage over rivals because it holds a wealth of information about people’s connections.

Facebook currently has an internal message service that allows members to communicate only with other Facebook accounts. The new service will allow Facebook members to communicate with anyone inside or outside the social network.

Microsoft’s Hotmail has 361 million global users, followed by Yahoo Mail’s 273 million users and Gmail’s 193 million users, according to comScore.

Zuckerberg downplayed suggestions the new service was a Gmail killer, arguing that email is “still really important to a lot of people” and he doesn’t expect people to shut down their current email accounts. But he acknowledged that he hoped that people would gravitate to Facebook’s messaging service over the next several years.

Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are already scrambling to retool their email services to build them more around people’s social connections–with mixed results.

Analysts said Facebook’s new service could help Facebook attract even more members and strengthen its claim of being the Internet hub of choice.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the new service represents a threat to both Google and Yahoo’s email platforms over the next several years.”Longer term we think Google’s Gmail and Yahoo Mail could have more difficulty attracting new users,” he said.

Google and Yahoo are working to add social-networking features to their email services. Google suffered a major black eye recently when it built its Google Buzz social-networking service around people’s Gmail contacts, a move that turned into a privacy disaster when Google automatically imported people’s email contacts into Buzz.

Yahoo, the most popular U.S. email provider, has launched an updated version of Mail that allows users to broadcast their status on both Twitter and Facebook.

Originally posted on: http://www.totaltele.com/view.aspx?ID=460275&G=5&C=2&Page=0

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