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December 06, 2012

Facebook Messenger for Android Allows Users to Sign Up with Phone Number, Send Free SMS to Contacts

By David Gitonga, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Facebook’s (News - Alert) ambition to go beyond one billion users just got another incentive.

Facebook recently announced the Messenger for Android (News - Alert) app, with the iOS version coming soon, which will allow signups with just a name and a phone number. Users of the Messenger app will be able to send messages to contacts, whether or not they’re on Facebook.

The Messenger for Android app is currently available in India, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela and South Africa, with more countries soon to be added. The initiative is clearly an attempt to challenge, or at least revolutionize, SMS similar to what apps like Pinger (News - Alert) and WhatsApp have been doing.

With Facebook already expressing interest in acquiring WhatsApp, the social network could end up controlling the SMS and messaging industry.

This recent attempt by Facebook shows that not everyone is looking to sign up for an account. However, the company is making it enticingly difficult not to use its latest product considering that users won’t have to pay to SMS their contacts.

Once installed, the app reads and renders a user’s contacts and allows them to select who to message. The app even supports group messaging threads. 

For a long time, there was speculation as to when Facebook’s high growth rate would start to slow down. While this might be a clear sign, the Messenger app could provide a stepping stone for more signups to take place.

With the Messenger rolling out in India first, the company is clearly looking for more than its current 65 million users in a country of one billion.

The Messenger for Android app will also be an easy sell to skeptics and cynics, as it removes the need to fill out an entire profile, manage friend requests and comply with a bunch of privacy controls. In addition, it will help users avoid SMS charges.

As Facebook continues to wage the war to control messaging together with Apple and Google (News - Alert), this latest shot depicts a company leveraging a device-agnostic, social layer approach to mobile on old phones that don’t have location features, touchscreens or cameras.

When the non-Facebook Messenger is finally released to feature phones, it’ll surely take off, allowing the company to court nearly anyone on Earth.

The Facebook Messenger for Android is available for download on this link.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker
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