Facebook opens Messenger for Android to non-Facebook users

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is expanding its standalone Messenger for Android application to support device owners without existing Facebook accounts, signaling the first time the social networking giant has made its services available outside its userbase.

Facebook messenger for android

Facebook Messenger for Android no longer requires a Facebook account.

To sign up for Facebook Messenger, consumers must first download the free Android app from the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play storefront, then enter their name and mobile phone number to begin messaging their contacts. In addition to text communications, Messenger also supports group conversations and photo sharing.

While Facebook plans to roll out the expanded Messenger support to Android users in all markets including the United States, it is initially targeting consumers in India, Indonesia, Australia, Venezuela and South Africa--i.e., nations where traditional SMS costs are most expensive. While Facebook is not requiring Messenger users to sign up for its core social networking services, it is clearly betting that most consumers will make the leap once they begin interacting with the platform. Facebook boasts more than 1 billion users, with roughly 600 million accessing its services via mobile--by comparison, there are more than 6 billion total mobile subscribers across the globe.

Facebook launched Messenger for Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS in mid-2011 in an effort to steer users away from conventional operator SMS solutions. Facebook plans to scrap the user signup requirement for Messenger's iOS version in the near future.

In other Facebook news, both Facebook and mobile messaging startup WhatsApp denied reports they are in acquisition talks. Although it is possible Facebook could still purchase a premium messaging app like WhatsApp, Facebook's decision to open Facebook Messenger to a wider audience suggests the social network plans to build its mobile messaging footprint organically.

For more:
- read this Facebook Newsroom entry
- read this AllThingsD article

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