Prior to Facebook’s big announcement of Graph Search, one of the myriad rumors floating around was that Facebook would announced a phone. While I’d still like to see Messenger (natively) on the iPad, the reality is that Facebook just launched a phone. Really. You probably have it already. It’s called Messenger.
Shortly after word that folks outside of Canada could use Facebook Messenger to make calls, the WSJ’s Matthew Lynley made the observation that, for all intents and purposes, the Facebook phone has arrived. Here are the three key points, and it’s hard to argue with them:
- Facebook has an application that lets you search the web for content that’s related to your friends. You can already find pages for movies, games, people and places, and your friends can share that content among themselves. With the introduction of Graph Search, it’s even easier to find that content. For example, you will be able to search “movies my friends in San Francisco like.” Graph Search hasn’t rolled out for mobile devices yet, but Facebook has said it wants to get to it.
- Facebook has a messaging app that lets you contact your friends with text and media messages. On the Android app, you don’t even need to log into Facebook. You can view the messages at any time from a sorted inbox.
- The messaging app has the ability to make phone calls. With the update today, you can make voice calls over wireless networks and Wi-Fi.
While the same can be said for Google, they do have a phone already. Facebook, almost as much as Apple, is a great source of rumors and speculation. They might not be a big company by revenue, profit, products, or employees; but they are huge in social/societal influence. They are, except for a handful of countries, the most popular social network in the world. So when they roll out a feature that allows Facebook members to download a free app that allows free calls between members? That’s big.
No, free VoIP isn’t new. Skype has it (been a user since the early betas on Windows myself), Google has it, lots of apps have it, but none of those apps or companies have the huge social and membership profile of Facebook.
So Facebook didn’t have to make a phone. They just made an app to do the same thing.
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