Facebook unveiled its next evolution of Messages, a seamless messaging platform that weaves e-mail, chat and SMS to offer an integrated communication service.
The new messaging platform is touted as a modern messaging system rather than a Gmail killer. The platform is built around three core elements: seamless messaging, conversation history and social inbox.
Seamless messaging enables users to receive messages on any device through any medium, eliminating the need to know which medium a user prefers. A user merely needs to choose the friends name and shoot a message. The platform-agnostic feature integrates IM, SMS, e-mail and Facebook messaging.
The new messaging platform also records a history of all conversations irrespective of the medium used. All the history is centered on people.
The platform's Inbox segregates the social messages from business messages, thus all messages from friends are stored in the inbox while bills and statements are routed to the other folder. It also allows a feature to bar all mails from non-friends.
The new messaging platform also incorporates Microsoft's Office Web Apps, providing users access to Excel, Power Point and Word documents directly from the platform.
In October VoIP player Skype also integrated its platform with Facebook, allowing Facebook users to call and SMS friends on landline and mobiles.
Microsoft has also tied up with Facebook, giving it access to show Facebook data on Bing search engine.
Facebook's Messages is a reflection of its strategy to become a single platform to offer unified communications and search facilities integrated around its social theme.
With most users being averse towards migrating their records from one email address to other, influencing users to switch email vendors is difficult. Facebook scores in this area as it has an existing base of more than 500 million users. Also Facebook revealed that it currently handles more than 4 billion messages a day. Thus Facebook can eschew the burden of compelling users to switch.
While Facebook's Messages is not touted to be a Gmail killer it certainly was launched with Google in mind. TechCrunch reported that Joel Seligstein, the Engineering Manager, in charge of Facebook's new Messages product, said that Facebook started the messaging platform project before Google launched Wave - which was touted by Google as the future of messaging.
Also the underlying technology that supports the new Facebook messaging platform is built on Hbase, the Hadoop open-source version of Google's Big Table distributed database. Facebook's earlier version of Messages infrastructure was based on Cassandra, MySQL and Haystack. The move to create a new platform infrastructure is to support its single repository of messages.