January 07, 2013
Facebook Messenger's Recent Update: One Small Step for Voice, One Giant Leap for Mobile Communications
By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer
When Facebook (News - Alert) branched out its messaging capabilities into a separate mobile app from the standard one, it was pretty obvious the company was making a play for the mobile communications market. It makes a lot of sense, too, when considering that mobile has been pointed out as a weak source of revenue for the social media giant since its IPO last year.
Fortunately for both Facebook and its consumers — and perhaps unfortunately for mobile providers and Microsoft (News - Alert) — the company has entered into the second phase of its push toward mobile, enabling voice capabilities in the Facebook Messenger app.
Currently, this means that users of the Android (News - Alert) and iOS versions of the app can now send voice messages, no longer than a minute in length, to one another after a recent update as a way to supplement the previously text-only chatting. This functionality is easily accessed and works well, by all accounts.
Meanwhile, iOS Facebook Messenger users in Canada only are now also able to make free voice calls by tapping the “i” icon in the top right corner of the app and selecting “Free Call.”
Interestingly, this new VoIP capability is not built on Facebook’s Skype (News - Alert) partnership, which is why this isn’t probably the best of news for Microsoft. Likewise, if mobile operators aren’t happy about messaging apps stealing away SMS revenue, the loss of revenue from voice use isn’t likely to go down well — not to mention the strain a full-on Facebook VoIP service would put on North America’s mobile data networks. Only time will tell how this will all fare.
Of course, Skype and Google Voice, as well as a number of other messaging apps, have been providing similar functionality for quite a while now; however, none of these services come pre-loaded with each user’s entire group of friends and colleagues like Facebook Messenger more or less does. As such, Facebook’s move toward mobile has great potential to shake up both the mobile communications and voice recognition space, although it will undoubtedly upset mobile operators.
What do you think?
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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