Facebook Messages launched to integrate e-mail with social network

Facebook has introduced a service to combine e-mail, text and instant messaging, called Facebook Messages.

Facebook has introduced a service to combine e-mail, text and instant messaging, called Facebook Messages.

Launched by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a press event in San Francisco, the messaging system will allow users to use a Facebook e-mail address with the @facebook.com suffix to communicate outside the social network.

Zuckerberg said he hoped more of Facebook's half a billion users would shift to this integrated, cross-platform mode of communication. "This is not an e-mail killer. This is a messaging system that includes e-mail as one part of it," he told reporters in San Francisco, according to Reuters.

Ray Valdes, research vice president for Gartner, said in a blog post that the launch added to Facebook's conflict with Google but the features are so limited, users who rely heavily on web-based e-mail from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft are "unlikely to switch".

"For the power user, Facebook Messages lacks important features such as tagging and a user-defined folder structure. Facebook Messages does have some positive aspects like the social prioritisation of content, integration with SMS and chat, real-time presence - in a form that goes beyond the current threshold set by Google Mail and Gtalk," he said.

Valdes said Facebook Messages could have an indirect impact on enterprise e-mail. "Enterprise systems will adopt some of the features, such as social filtering of messages, chat integration and presence, in the way that enterprise collaboration suites have adopted Facebook-style social networking," he said.

Facebook Messages features will be rolled out in the coming months.

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