Facebook takes on SMS with Messenger for iOS and Android

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Facebook introduced Messenger, a free standalone messaging solution enabling iOS and Android device users to correspond directly with their friends via wireless device while sidestepping conventional operator SMS solutions. The app enables Facebook members to message friends, groups of friends or anyone in their mobile contacts as well as map their present location, find friends and make plans on the go. Facebook Messenger also touts notifications alerting users when new messages arrive and photo attachment capabilities. Facebook adds that feature phone users can still reply to Messenger messages by confirming their mobile number.

Facebook Messenger

Messenger enables users to message Facebook friends, groups of friends or mobile contacts on the go.

Facebook Messenger arrives less than six months after the social networking giant acquired Beluga, which develops mobile applications and web solutions enabling instant group messaging via SMS. Sources say Messenger leverages core Beluga technologies, with 9 to 5 Mac also reporting that future iterations of the app will support video conferencing tools.

Facebook Messenger is the latest threat to premium SMS services, long a cash cow for mobile operators. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) forthcoming iOS 5 platform revamp will include iMessage, which lets consumers send free text messages, photos and videos between all iOS devices. Analysts believe iMessage could also spell doom for rival platform solutions like Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) signature BlackBerry Messenger.

Facebook now boasts roughly 700 million users worldwide, with more than 250 million consumers actively using its mobile products across all platforms, up from only 65 million a year ago. According to Nielsen Company data published last year, Facebook is also the most popular app on iOS, with 50 percent of users accessing the solution within the last 30 days.

For more:
- read this 9 to 5 Mac article

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