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This article was published on November 15, 2010

Facebook announces new messaging system that is not email

Facebook announces new messaging system that is not email

This is a breaking story, we are updating as it happens.

Today at the Facebook event Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the next modern messaging system is not email. No, he said that email lacks any number of important modern components.

Currently 350 million people use Facebook messages. Some 4 billion messages a day are sent on FB, including messages and chats. The vast majority of this is one to one messaging by people in private, and is growing faster than Facebook as a whole.

This is what Facebook thinks a modern messaging system will contain:

The new Facebook messaging system has three main components: Seamless messaging, conversation history, and ‘social inbox.’

The product will unify a variety of conversation formats including Facebook messages, email, Facebook chat, and SMS all in one box (we are nearly positive of that list). In the demonstration of the product demonstration, GChat and MSN messenger were mentioned. Eventually, the product will have higher levels of email integration.

Facebook is giving out email addresses, but stressing that it’s not just email. Once someone sends you an email, you can then immediately open up a chat with them, complete with history, to add context to your chat. To us, this sounds suspiciously like where Google Wave could have gone, but didn’t.

Pulling on our heartstrings, Facebook mentioned that people used to keep boxes of letters from olden days. Where are our modern boxes of letters? This why Facebook has built Conversation history, a way to keep your old conversations alive. As the new messaging platform can collect data from so many sources, Facebook will be able to store more of your ‘letters’ in your own ‘box’ for you. Facebook messaging will now mange file attachments.

The engineering team that Facebook put together was the largest for a new product launch in Facebook history.

The Social Inbox feature is similar to Gmail’s priority inbox, with two systems: messages and ‘other messages.’ In other words, priority and not priority, just like in Gmail. The main difference lies in the bounce function which we’ll talk about in a moment.

Facebook claims that a big problem with email is that eventually, your email account is ‘out there’ and unless you change your address, you are not in control over who can send you messages. With Facebook Messages, you can set it to bounce any email from your messages inbox from your email account that is not sent by a friend on Facebook. Facebook claims that the secret sauce missing from messaging has long been the social graph.

Facebook is not calling this an email killer, it is ‘a messaging system that uses email.’ Facebook also does not anticipate people leaving their regular email accounts. However, the company does seem to anticipate that people over time will switch over more and more to Facebook messaging. Oh, and kids who get on Facebook before email? Who else wants to bet that they never get a normal webmail account?

This new system will be rolled out over the next few months via an invite system.

What is coming? IMAP support is coming say Zuck, saying that they want the product to be as integrated as possible, with eventual email read/write to other clients.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to using this?

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