Facebook has launched a new service called Messenger for Android that allows smartphone owners to send messages to each other, even if they haven't joined Facebook. For now, the feature is only available in developing markets.
Tomio Geron from Forbes noted, "Previously Facebook Messenger was an app for Facebook users to communicate with other Facebook users through instant chat. The Messenger app was a separate app from the main Facebook app but allowed a focus just on messages, for people who send messages on their phones constantly. Ideally Facebook hoped, they would use Messenger instead of the main SMS on their phones. The problem was communicating with others who didn’t have a Facebook account. Now Facebook is essentially creating a separate registration process focused on messaging. It shows the large potential of messaging and a possible new area of growth for Facebook."
CNET quoted Facebook's Peter Deng, who said, "The SMS protocol has been around for 20 years. It's designed for old phones, and it don't take advantage of location or rich features like picture taking. We want to let people connect to each other."
Mashable's Todd Wasserman observed, "The move represents an attempt by Facebook to lure holdouts or customers who deleted their accounts. The app is also an alternative to other SMS apps like GoogleVoice, Kik and WhatsApp, among others. For Facebook, which has been under pressure to deliver a coherent mobile strategy, a more open Messenger will also help secure some smartphone real estate otherwise controlled by Apple and Google."
USAToday's John Bacon reported, "The hitch: It's not available in the U.S. just yet. The rollout for the upgraded app, running on Google's Android mobile software platform, will be available in Australia, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Venezuela right away. Facebook said it plans to expand it to other countries, including the U.S., but did not say when. The Messenger application will eventually become available on Apple's iPhone, the company said."