Facebook is introducing a feature in its mobile apps that allows people to message one other without needing a Facebook account. It appears this design will help the company grow deeper into the mobile market it has long coveted.
On Tuesday, Facebook introduced a new feature for its Messenger Android app that allows people to use the app without entering any Facebook account information; in fact a person doesn't even need to belong to Facebook at all. All they need is a name and a phone number, not even an email address.
According to Mashable, the feature is being offered to Android users in Australia, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Venezuela. Additionally, the feature will soon be added to the iOS app too.
The announcement was made in a brief Facebook blog post today, Dec. 4.
"Starting today, you can create a Messenger account with just your name and phone number, and start messaging your mobile contacts," the blog post said. "Just install the app and tap Get Started to reach your contacts faster, start group conversations, share photos and more. An update to Messenger for Android is available today, and Messenger accounts will become available over the next few weeks."
It is unclear when other countries will be added, however, several media reports indicated other markets will follow "shortly".
For some time now the social network giant has been actively trying to break into the mobile market, but has had some challenges along the way. However, with this newly designed app, this may help the network retain members by providing users with another option; it could also potentially lure in new users and offer competition to other SMS apps.
NBC News reported, "The benefit to Facebook of making Messenger available this way is that it gets to tap into a whole new audience, which may at some point join Facebook's 1 billion users."
Users do not even need to have a smartphone, as CNET points out there is another app Facebook provides that makes a "dumb" phone into a "smart one". This leads to speculations of how Facebook may eventually impact segments of the cellular market as the new messenger feature could whittle away at cellphone companies selling text message packages.
Since its inception, Facebook has experienced steady global growth over the years and, in less than a decade, its membership has reached epic proportions; currently over 1 billion people worldwide are members. And for those holding out, this new messenger feature may be a way for Facebook to reach those who are not interested in the social network and keep the company's user base growing.
Sam Lessin, a director of product for Facebook, said in an interview with CNET, "It's a really great way to get a bunch of people."
And of course, the company hopes that many of them will eventually give in and join the network for real.
Have you been avoiding becoming a full-fledged Facebook member? Would a Facebook-brand free messaging service be appealing to you?