Facebook has followed Blackberry and Apple into the instant mobile messaging market by releasing its own standalone messaging app.
The social networking giant has unveiled ‘Messenger for Mobile’, which aggregates texts, chats, emails and instant messages into one place. The app can access not only a user’s Facebook contacts, but a phone’s address book too, which means it also works with friends who aren’t on Facebook.
The app was released last night in the US. It is not yet known when it will be available to UK consumers.
In a post on Facebook’s blog, software engineer Lucy Zhang wrote, “It isn't always easy to know the best way to reach someone on their phone. Should you send an email or text? Which will they check first? Did they even get your last message?
“It isn't always easy to know the best way to reach someone on their phone. Messages are delivered through notifications and texts, so your friends are more likely to get them right away. You can use Messenger to reach all of your friends - whether they're on Facebook or in your phone contacts. All you have to do is type the person's name.”
The new feature appears to put Facebook in direct competition with Research in Motion's BlackBerry Messenger service, which is hugely popular amongst teenage mobile consumers as well as similar offerings from Apple (such as the What’s App messaging feature) and Google +’s Huddle functionality, which mimics an MMS group.
The app will be available to Android and the iPhone users.
The announcement of Facebook’s new feature comes at a somewhat inopportune time – RIM’s Blackberry Messenger service has come under heavy scrutiny this week over the part it has played in allowing large groups of trouble makers to communicate throughout the UK riots. Already questions are being raised as to how secure Facebook’s messenger feature will be.
The move by Facebook is also unlikely to be popular amongst mobile network operators. This latest addition to the ‘free messaging’ stable is likely to impact on the number of text messages consumers send.
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