Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has announced its first product available to people without a Facebook account; Facebook Messenger for Android.
From now on, the Facebook Messaging app on Android will now allow signups from non-Facebook users. The iOS version will follow suit with the update coming soon.
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The change is an important move for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), as it means that people without Facebook accounts can use the app to contact their friends; potentially acting as a lure or stepping stone to draw in more users for the social networking giant, which is the largest in the world with over one billion users.
The change to the app has so far been released in a limited run of countries that includes India, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela, and South Africa – the company is planning to make it available to the rest of the world soon, although there is not yet a date set in stone for when it will be available to iOS users.
The update, although on the News section of their website, will be formally announced on stage later today at Le Web by Facebook’s Mobile Product Manager, Peter Deng.
The app, once installed, sucks in the users’ contacts from their mobile phone – including details such as name and number. They can then be selected from the contact list, similar to sending an SMS, and contacted with a message or group-message thread.
Facebook’s move into SMS and third-party free texting apps looks set to challenge Pinger, Whatsapp, and various others. Facebook was rumored to be considering the acquisition of Whatsapp, so this move into their territory could be the result of Whatsapp refusing Facebook’s offers. Facebook’s offering to the messaging apps domain will so far be ad-free; giving it a distinct advantage over other similar messaging apps that are either paid-for or ad-supported.
Offering the use of Facebook messaging to non-Facebook users may help to draw in some additional signups for the social network, with the messaging app acting as a stepping stone. It also means that Facebook users won’t have to pay for SMS charges in order to contact their friends.
Whether or not Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is planning to mow over the competition in the messaging apps territory, their latest move has fueled some of the old rumors that Facebook may release its own mobile device. We will have to wait and see…
The new version of Facebook for Android is available for download now, but you may have to wait a little longer before the new features are added.