Facebook has unveiled a new instant messaging services for mobiles phones that could rival BlackBerry Messenger. The dedicated app, for Android devices and iPhones will allow users to contact individual friends of groups of people. At the moment, the mobile messenger is only available in the United States, but it is expected to eventually be rolled in other countries.
It is perhaps not the opportune time for Facebook to introducing such a service, with a lot of attention being focussed on mobile messaging in the wake of London rioters using the likes of BBM to co-ordinate their movements. But Facebook can’t afford to wait around for the heat to die down on that front, as Apple are due to reveal a similar product in about a month’s time.
Facebook users already have the ability to send messages through the website, and also on the existing smartphone app. What the new application will bring to the table is the ability to send directly to a mobile phone via SMS, as well as including location information.
The founder of Pocket-lint.com, Stuart Miles, spoke to the BBC about how Facebook might be able to make the instant messaging application go further, due to its compatibility with more than one phone system: “Apple will be iPhone to iPhone, like Facetime. The same as BBM which is Blackberry to Blackberry. [Facebook] will be Android to iPhone, so theoretically it can only benefit from the platform”.