Facebook’s New Messenger App Aims to Kill SMS, BBM, and Everything Else

Illustration for article titled Facebook’s New Messenger App Aims to Kill SMS, BBM, and Everything Else

AIM's downfall owes largely to the ubiquity of Facebook chat. And now, the company's going after the mobile crown—texting. Facebook Messenger will do text conversations, privately share your location, and beam around photos. To all of your friends.

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Illustration for article titled Facebook’s New Messenger App Aims to Kill SMS, BBM, and Everything Else

The dedicated Messenger app will be separate from the main Facebook app for iOS and Android, offering a one-click jump into group or individual messaging. If your pal's on Facebook (which they almost certainly are), they'll get your message in their FB inbox. If they're not, or don't have Messenger installed, you can send your missive via SMS instead, without either of you noticing a difference. Chat room-style conversations will be available, a la BBM, with room topics for easy sorting. If you want to sling your coordinates to a pal, you'll be able to send them a drop pin of your location on a map. Enjoying the pizza you're eating at that location? Share a photo too. All of this will be push notification-enabled as well-meaning you've got a hell of a powerful, consolidated communications toolkit in your pocket, and an actual reason to consider replacing your phone's default messaging app.

Niche group messaging apps like GroupMe definitely have a reason to be worried. Getting everyone I know to sign up for GroupMe would be a big pain in the ass. Getting everyone I know to sign up for Facebook would be a-oh wait, they did years ago. [Facebook via Inside Facebook]


You can keep up with Sam Biddle, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

DISCUSSION

This will work about as well as Beluga (which Facebook bought), Google Talk, and every other IM program that every found itself as an app on your cell phone.

Ultimately, there is the problem of Metcalfe's law. Not everyone has a smart phone to install apps on. Not everyone has Facebook accounts to send messages to (How many facebook disconnects do you know?). When roaming, some phones are configured not to use data connections.

People will always fall back on SMS. If you receive a SMS message, will you reply with a facebook message? Not likely. Will you hold multiple conversations using different applications simultaneously? Again, not likely.

It is charming that everyone wants to dethrone SMS (I wanna do it too! there's tons of money to be made if you can invent a better mousetrap), but it is unrealistic to think that something like this would do it.

Facebook specifically has issue with being the medium for this. There are a lot of people out there who do not have Facebook accounts. Some had their accounts deleted, others dropped out for one reason or another, and others still don't see the value of maintaining an online profile for communications.

This increased reliance on the Facebook gateway is leading to an interesting class of disenfranchised internet citizen.

I understand that Facebook wants to be ubiquitous and their goal is for every human being on earth to have a Facebook account, but for one reason or another that goal will never be realized.