Facebook aims to be communications hub

Social networking giant Facebook expanded its communications offering late Monday, seeking to position itself as an aggregator of content across all messaging mediums.

The company, which counts some 500 million plus users on its books, was careful to position its enhancements to Facebook Messages as a complementary offering to email, not a replacement. By doing this, Facebook isn’t officially going up against Google and Yahoo’s own email offerings but it is trying to steal eyeballs from both web giants by keeping users on Facebook for as long as possible as often as possible.

The idea is that Facebook Messages would be the one place to go to read and reply to all discussions, whether they originated on text message, email or chat. The default setup would group together and highlight conversations from ‘friends’ and block out the communications from, say, your utility company or spam. Of course, the settings can be tweaked to incorporate everything and effectively operates as a black/whitelisting service for all forms of communication. In this way it would compete with the likes of Gmail and, potentially, the telecoms operators, by diverting user attention away from these applications to Facebook. Almost incidentally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said that users would be able to pick up a email address as part of the service.

It remains to be seen how other messaging providers react to the move and how well Facebook integrates it offering with other messaging platforms. But as analysts at Ovum pointed out, the news should give telcos a lot to think about as Facebook is becoming an increasingly rich communication platform.

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