We’ve seen Facebook try out many features in the past and some have been successful and others have failed or just never caught on. One of them being email, and even changing everyone’s default email address to a Facebook Mail address. Yesterday, there were rumors floating around the internet that Facebook was interested in buying WhatsApp, a mobile messenger startup with millions of users and one of many “SMS-killers” out there.
SMS has been around for 20 years and it has had some competition lately. BBM (Blackberry Messenger) was one of the first alternatives. Apple uses iMessage to send messages between other iPhone users. Microsoft has built-in Live Messenger into Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7/8 and Google has Google Talk on Android. Then there’s third party apps like WhatsApp and Kik Messenger. Kik requires that you sign up for an account (similar to Live Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, etc). WhatsApp is linked with your phone number, making it a little more unique.
This is where Facebook comes in. They’ve had a Messenger app for Android and iOS for a while now, as well as built-into Windows Phone. Now Facebook is allowing users to sign up for Messenger with just their name and phone number; In other words, you no longer need a Facebook account to use it. It is only available through Android right now and only in India, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela, and South Africa. Eventually, they could see this coming to feature phones and be used worldwide.
Carriers tend to overcharge for SMS, so having alternatives like this could help lower those costs or eventually replace SMS as we know it. The problem right now is that there are so many alternatives out there that not all of your family and friends will use the same service. Some are limited to certain phones and the others are just preference.
If you use any of these alternatives, which one do you prefer? Do you see Facebook being successful with this?