Facebook announced its new messaging system today specifically saying it’s “not e-mail”. Actually what they mean is for it to be more than e-mail – modern messaging: IM, e-mail, & SMS, all consolidated in one place.
You will be able to get an @facebook.com address if you’d like, but you don’t have to. Of course, this will all work on the Facebook.com website, which means more eyeballs and presumably more advertising dollars for Facebook. There will also be a mobile version.
The new system will group your messages by person, not by date or by subject or thread. It’s meant to be simpler than traditional e-mail, and for example, hitting Enter/Return will send the message. They better have an alternative setting for enticing those people that are so used to e-mail.
Also, all messages regardless of type will be kept together in one inbox and they will be focused on messages from your friends, and not necessarily your bank/online vendor/etc. In future, Facebook hopes to include other types of modern communication such as voice messages, but right now they’re keeping it text-based.
CEO Mark Zuckerburg also pointed out that this is not an e-mail killer, while also saying that if it be ok if it took over. But of course, they’d like this to be the revolution in messaging that has 500 million users.
The Gmail (or email) vs Facebook analogy may not be exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, but in the end, it boils down to # of users and in that sense it is dead on.
Facebook will be rolling out the new messaging system over the next few months, and you can request an invite here. Meantime, you may also watch a promotional video that appeals to your emotions and familial instincts.