Mark Zuckerberg’s address late last night was the announcement of a “modern messaging system”, which will allow users to have a unified “social inbox” for their email, chat, Facebook messages, IM and SMS, along with consolidated history for each contact. Zuckerberg emphasised that this was not an “email killer”, and that any email service could be used. Users will also be able to register for a @facebook.com email address.
The messaging system’s support for SMS precludes the need for an app, though of course to view the inbox natively new official apps for various platforms will be released in the near future. IMAP support will also be arriving shortly. The entire messaging system will take a while to rollout globally, with a timescale of a few months.
Zuckerberg spoke about how this was the first major step towards achieving Facebook’s vision of the future of communication, and how based on feedback from high school kids they decided to make it less “formal”, and instead, focus on creating a system that was “seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple, minimal, and short.” For all this to fit inside the Facebook ecology, an unusually large team (for Facebook) of 15 engineers supposedly “completely rebuilt the [messaging] infrastructure”, replacing the previous Cassandra system with “hBase”, which was developed by working closely with the open source community.