This is a guest blog entry from Karin Gerber.

Recently Facebook announced Facebook Messaging, the next generation of communication where friends can send email, chat (IM), text messages, and Facebook mail all from one location.  It doesn’t matter anymore whether someone prefers email over text messaging.  If you signed up for Facebook Messaging, whatever the preferred method of communication is, that is how the message will be sent to you.  Facebook Messaging wants to make communication more efficient, more personal, and undeniably simpler.

Facebook Messaging will consist of three components:

  1. Seamless Messaging: This is where you would send and receive all of your messages (email, text messages, chats, and Facebook mail), all in one convenient inbox.  If your girlfriend prefers email, when you send a message to your girlfriend, it will be delivered to her via email.  If you send a message to your buddy, but your buddy prefers text messages, the message will be sent via text message.  No more subject lines, no CC’s or BCC’s.  All you have to do is type in your friend’s name, type the message, and send – that’s it.
  2. Conversation History: All of your messages each friend will be together in one location, whether they are sent over email, text messages, or chat.  This allows you to see everything discussed with someone as a single thread.
  3. Social Inbox: Your Inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends, while all other messages will go into an Other folder and spam is moved to a Junk folder.  You can easily move conversations from one folder to another and Facebook Messaging will remember your preference.

It will also provide an @facebook.com email address to every user on Facebook who wants one.

Microsoft’s Office Web apps product are also being integrated into Facebook Messaging.

At Facebook’s San Francisco press event (on November 15, 2010) about the overhaul of its messaging service, the company detailed how users can now view and share attachments on the service.  Included on that list is Microsoft’s Office Web Apps service, which means Facebook users will be able to open up Word, Excel, and PowerPoint attachments without having to have Microsoft’s software installed locally.  (via CNET News)

What about privacy?

With the ability to communicate with people outside the Facebook system, Facebook will be capturing e-mail addresses and other information that didn’t already exist on its servers.  Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges this, but says that information is being captured to make the messaging tool smarter and easier to use.  He denies that the information collected via Facebook’s messaging platform will be used to target ads, or shared with advertisers or marketers, or made accessible to Facebook app makers.  (via Today @ PCWorld)

But will this work?  Do I want bills and credit card or bank statements going to an email address @facebook.com?  Then again, is there really a difference between Gmail getting my bank statement or Facebook?  I guess time will tell.  Facebook wants to correlate Facebook Messaging with conversation and I understand that many of the younger generation prefer keeping in contact by text messaging or going on Facebook itself.  I can see Facebook Messaging being a hit with them.  Yet I also know that some people find they don’t need another email address. These big hitters like Google, Yahoo!, and now Facebook, have too much of our information anyway and will prefer keeping as low a profile as possible.  Others might find they don’t want ALL of their messages (email, text messages, chats, and Facebook mail) appearing all in a single inbox.  Call it information overload.

I don’t see Gmail or Yahoo! Mail going away anytime soon but I do see more people utilizing Facebook Messaging in the long run.  Remember – Facebook currently has approximately 500 million users.

Bottom line is Facebook is a business, just like Google and Yahoo! are.  I wouldn’t recommend giving up that Gmail account right away, at least not until the possible kinks are worked out, as with any new system, and maybe Facebook Messaging allows us to CC and BCC our messages.  I do like the easy feature of tracking my conversations especially if I need to find something I had said a while back.  The Social Inbox feature of Facebook Messaging is basically allowing me to have two inboxes:  one for my important messages, and the other folder to capture my other messages.  If you’d like to request an invite to Facebook Messages go to http://www.facebook.com/about/messages/

Love them or hate them, you have to respect Facebook’s gumption.

Editors Note: We have a new poll running in the sidebar which asks if the new Facebook Messaging will change your email habits. Please take a moment and let us know what you think. Thanks.