In recent days, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has been getting a lot of attention due to the riots in London, however for RIM, most of this attention will be unwelcome. And so it seems apt that Facebook would choose now as the moment to launch it’s own mobile messaging system, not very originally titled Facebook Messenger.
According to those in the know, rioters in London have been using BBM to organize themselves over the past four days. RIM has even confirmed that it will be working with the police to help identify those responsible for organising the riots via social media. But, whatever about the negative attention BBM may be getting, there is no doubt that the system is hugely popular.
Figures suggest that BBM has 45 million users worldwide and so Facebook will be looking to nab a large slice of these customers. With 750 million active users, Facebook already has a captive audience and its new Facebook Messenger apps for iOS and Android could become very popular, very quickly.
The new app will allow for users to send one-to-one and group messages to their Facebook friends and contacts from their mobile phone for free – just like BBM.
Messenger is an extension of Facebook messages and so all your conversations, including your texts, chats, emails and messages, will be kept in one place. You will be able to include your location and photos in your messages.
Facebook’s rival Google recently unveiled the Huddle aspect of its Google Plus mobile apps, which offers similar functions, and Apple will bring its instant messaging service, iMessage, as part of iOS 5. Similar functionality is also offered by What’s App, which is even available for Nokia’s Symbian platform, though on only a limited number of phones.
Facebook’s app is based on group messaging service, Beluga, which Facebook acquired earlier this year. Creator Zhang, who is now an engineer at Facebook, said in a blog post: "We think messaging should be easier than that. You should be able to write a message, click 'Send' and know that you will reach the person right away."
While Facebook is obviously trying to capitalize on the growing demand for free instant messaging to replace SMS, regular users of the social network will be asking why it doesn’t put more effort into getting its normal iOS app up to scratch following a lot of complaints recently.
As with most new Facebook features, Messenger is only available in the US so far with no word on when or if we will see it in other regions.
Source: Facebook Blog