Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year old founder and CEO of the world’s greatest social network, considers email to be a slow, obsolete piece of technology. Modern messaging, in his view, should be fast, seamlessly integrated with other services, informal, personal, simple and short.
The new messaging service knows all of the above: it’s short, simple and minimal. It has three major features: seamless messaging, conversation history and social inbox. It’s not email – it can handle conventional email, SMS and instant messaging along with other ways of communication. Spam will be filtered through the users’ friends.
The new messaging platform – that will offer users a @facebook.com email address – integrates the multiple messaging platforms into one product that will only keep the two essential parts of the messaging: the people and the messages. Technology, at least according to Andrew Bosworth, just gets in the way.
Users will have an email address that will match their Facebook usernames. The system is definitely not email, though – according to Bosworth, it’s more like chat. The system supports multiple protocols: XMPP / Jabber, Facebook API, it will soon support IMAP and it can send push notifications through the iPhone. There will be virtually no limit to the conversation history.
The biggest engineering team Facebook has ever used for one product has worked on this project for a little over one year.
According to Zuckerberg, this new product is not an email killer – it integrates it, it does not replace it. It’s also not a Gmail killer, as it works fine with Gmail users, too.
The service will slowly roll out in the next few months. For now, it’s invitation only.