Competition has proven once again that it is a compelling driver in making excellent products even better. And competition in the social networking circle seems to be heating up. Facebook on Tuesday released a new group chat application for iPhone users, the Messenger for Mobile. But it’s not about to miss a large market chunk of Android and Blackberry users so the new group chat also runs on Android and later on RIM devices.
While Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto based Facebook is the unquestioned champion social networks with 750 million users worldwide and growing, its recent moves reveal some kind of catch-up effort to match the innovative features of Google+, just barely a month old.
After getting Skype video chat to work in Facebook last month at around the same time that Google+ was launched. Obviously, the competition heat has not escaped the world’s largest and most popular social networking site and looks like it’s feeling too much heat from the upstart social site from the world’s largest search engine and Android OS owner.
The launch of the Messenger for Mobile for Facebook appears to compete head-on with the Huddle functionality in Google+ which is only accessible in Google+’s mobile apps section, not on the its main homepage and has the characteristics behaviors of group MMS. Users can have as many Huddles they like and they can limit who gets into a Huddle and you add new correspondents as well. All Huddle participants enjoy the ability to exchange messages in your pro tem chat room.
The Facebook Messenger for Mobile behaves quite similarly to the Huddle feature on Google+. It enables group message exchanges between friends you can specific in each group. You also have the option to include a participant’s location data that chat participants can see. Messenger participants in your conversation who are using smartphones can still join and received messages but through conventional SMS. They just have to confirm their cellphone numbers with Facebook.
Facebook Messenger for Mobile is free to download and requires iOS 4.0 or later version running on your iPhone, iPod or iPad, and on Android 2.2 Froyo handsets or later. Interestingly, while it runs on the most popular smartphone platforms, it also competes with Apple’s Message, and Blackberry’s own BBM.