Facebook Working on an IM Service


I take one weekend off the Internet, and everything goes crazy. Can’t you people get on without me?

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reported on Friday that Facebook would be developing an IM service, to premiere as early as this week. Naturally, as Arrington pointed out, this would not bode well for the existing third-party chat apps already in use on Facebook. Arrington’s sources say that Facebook’s IM would eventually be Jabber-compliant (ie open source and compatible with existing chat clients like Trillium).

A day later, the ever-reliable Valleywag reported that Facebook was in talks to acquire Social.IM, one of those third-party chat apps (which happens to be privately funded, as well). However, they updated their story when the CEO of Mogad (Social.IM’s owner company) said that “If we’re being bought, I haven’t gotten the call yet.”

Social.IM poked fun at the acquisition rumors with a graphic in a now-deleted post on their blog:
social.im faux chat with zuckerberg

CNET’s Caroline McCarthy speculates that the fake IM conversation was removed because it subtly hints that the acquisition will occur. I can’t say I know that to be true, even after searching my feelings, but I can say that every simulated conversation on the Social.IM site and blog uses Star Wars dialogue, so we might be reading a bit much into the conversation to take it literally.

Inside Facebook points out that all your communication are belong to Facebook Facebook wants to be your source for all communications with your friends, and chat would be a great way to do that.

Until we get an announcement from Facebook, of course, we won’t know what’s really going on. While a foray into IM would dovetail well with their overall efforts, that doesn’t necessarily mean instant success.

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk PS3

    That is quite a scoop if they pull it off successfully. The cynic in me is always cautious about having all my eggs in one basket but will have to see how it develops.

  • http://www.daxle.net Brian Oates

    IM seems so…90′s. ;)
    If someone wanted to start an overnight package delivery company, I’d suggest they think again. That service is well covered. Starting another IM (with nothing to significantly differentiate itself) doesn’t seem to hold much. If you use IM, you likely already have enough accounts.

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Brian—I hear you. I certainly IM a lot less than I did 5 years ago. But IM is actually still a very popular activity for a lot of people—like my teenage sister.

    The advantage that Facebook will claim to offer is that all of your friends aren’t on the same IM client, but they ARE already all on Facebook.

    I doubt they’d make you create another account if they do this; I’m guessing they’d probably just add something to the account & page (and friends) that you already have. FB probably sees this not as forcing you to sign up for yet another service but as integrating a capability that you’re already using elsewhere and would be likely to use on FB.

  • http://www.Daxle.net Brian

    @Jordan – Yes, I see it working for the people you’ve friended in FB. I’m thinking for those people that are ‘really’ your friend, are already in your contacts for the IMs you use now.

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