Facebook announces new communication platform; simple, seamless, not email

Today, at the company’s planned media event, social networking giant Facebook took the wraps off of its new communication service. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, noted that the new system aims to be seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple, minimal, and short… but not email.

The new service will: provide messaging across all of the different ways people communicate (SMS, email, IM, SMS), a conversation history for reference and archiving, and a social inbox to aggregate all the messages you really care about.

The scenario presented is this: someone sends you an email that is displayed on Facebook as a chat window (the new system is being described as “very IM like”), when you reply to this message an email is sent back to your conversation partner. If you happen to be away from your computer when they reply, you can get a push email notification via the mobile Facebook application or via SMS (the company noted that a new iOS Facebook app will be launching today) and respond from there. The idea is to keep a permanent, running history of conversations with the people you care about while making digital communication feel like an actual, face-to-face conversation. “Your conversations are no longer locked in a phone or a particular email service,” said Facebook engineer Andrew Bozworth. “The days of typing “g2g” and “brb” are over.”

Users of Facebook will be given the opportunity to have a @facebook.com email address that matches the public user-name (facebok.com/public-useranme) that they’ve picked; Facebook employees will use the new fb.com domain purchased from the Farm Bureau. Down the road, the new service will support XMPP, IMAP, and several other open protocols to will allow users to access their Facebook messages however they want.

The company will be rolling out the new service slowly over the first few months; initial testers will be part of an invite system similar to the one used by Gmail early on.

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