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Does Facebook change the messaging landscape?

William Dudley, Group Director, Product Management, Sybase 365 | March 4, 2011
Facebook recently announced a messaging product that promises seamless messaging, conversation history and a social in-box, nothing short of a new way to communicate, regardless of the channel —SMS, e-mail, IM or chat. The Social Inbox will only contain messages from Friends and Friends of Friends, with other messages being routed to the 'Other' Folder.

FRAMINGHAM, 4 MARCH 2011 - Facebook recently announced a messaging product that promises seamless messaging, conversation history and a social in-box, nothing short of a new way to communicate, regardless of the channel —SMS, e-mail, IM or chat. The Social Inbox will only contain messages from Friends and Friends of Friends, with other messages being routed to the 'Other' Folder.

In conjunction with the announcement, Facebook noted that, "relatively soon, we'll probably all stop using arbitrary 10-digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other. We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly. We aren't there yet, but the changes today are a small first step."

While that may be a noble goal, it is a lofty goal, one that may take a long time to come to reality, if ever. Why? It has to do with the numerous ways that both people and enterprises may be addressed.

Let's use Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operators (NUVO) as an example. NUVOs are services that offer replacement or complementary P2P services such as SMS and voice, independent of any network operator. They include services such as Google (GOOG) Voice, MediaFriends' HeyWire, Pinger's TextFree, Toktumi's Line 2 and quite a few others.

NUVOs assign you a new telephone number and extend messaging and sometimes voice to devices other than 'phones.' With these types of service providers growing in popularity, it is not only feasible but likely that many people may be addressable by multiple telephone numbers - all registered with a single or across multiple devices. With my laptop, iPad, and iPhone, I now have five telephone numbers assigned. I also maintain four e-mail addresses and am registered on four IM services (including Facebook Chat). You're probably thinking: 'That is insane! Why so many numbers?' Partly because many of the NUVOs are customers or prospects of ours, but each offers a plethora of benefits I think are useful.

In the instant messaging (or IM) world, there are numerous communities. Facebook Chat is the newest and, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, one that generates 4 billion messages today from 350 million Facebook users. But then there are still millions users of Windows Live Messenger, AOL (TWX), GoogleTalk, ACQ and many other IM communities.

Of course, you know about the zillions of e-mail communities we all deal with — we have personal e-mails, work e-mails, and even 'speciality e-mails' such as eBay (EBAY) e-mails, that are only within the eBay community (you are addressed by your eBay ID). In fact, many enterprises and communities offer varying types of e-mail-like or IM-like P2P communications channels.

 

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