Facebook Announcement: Messages Between The Lines

by Etienne Besson on 16 November 2010

in My musings,Online Profiles

Last night I watched the live stream of Facebook presenting their new messaging system. I still don’t know what it does exactly, but I found the various sub-messages very interesting.

Facebook announces new messaging system

Image credit www.deepubalan.com

Like our customers, we’re just regular people

Of course, it would have been a bit weird to see Mark Zuckerberg (CEO) and Andrew Bosworth (Director of Engineering) with ties. But the fact that both were wearing t-shirts and occasionally paused to look for the right words certainly supported the “we’re you’re buddies” image.

And frankly, I prefer hearing enthusiastic people talk about something they created rather than suits selling their revolutionary product that will facilitate a paradigm shift by leveraging yadda yadda yawn.

We’re here to serve you

Before the presentation really started, Zuckerberg explained that they initially wanted to have the announcement in Palo Alto (where Facebook has its offices). But then they realized that there was this big conference (what a coincidence…) and decided to travel to San Francisco to make it more convenient for everybody.

They even brought chairs from the Facebook cafeteria.

We have lifes

Social networks only for anti-social loners? No way, even the executives at Facebook have lifes. Zuckerberg talked about spending Thanksgiving with his girlfriend (they have been together for several years) and their families.

Later on, Andrew Bosworth also jokingly mentioned that he already had friends before Facebook.

We talk and listen to our customers

Zuckerberg said that he had the idea for the new messaging system after talking to high school girls at one of the thanksgiving dinners. They told him that email was too slow and that they preferred IM and Facebook.

I thought it was quite funny when he said that most of the time he finds out about his new Facebook messages through email (like me), while the young ladies were on Facebook anyway.

We only want to satisfy existing needs

It was very interesting how Zuckerberg and Bosworth positioned the new service as something that is closer to a real life conversation and therefore much more natural than the outdated and inconvenient email services.

Although they obviously think that it will change the way we will communicate online, they mentioned several times that if they do a good job, then people will start using it. What modesty.

They also stressed that although they would make a Facebook email address available to their users, it was purely optional.

No Gmail Killer

No Gmail Killer

Our customers come first

Although many of their employees identify with their email address, they will switch internally to @fb.com in order to make the @facebook.com addresses available to their customers.

We’re not Google’s enemy

Before the announcement there were many articles mentioning Facebook’s “Gmail Killer”. During the Q&A part Zuckerberg seized the opportunity to say that this wasn’t true. He even proclaimed on two occasions that “Gmail is a really good product”.

Of course he didn’t mention that Facebook is already a serious competitor to Google in terms of search traffic and online advertising.

What I really thought

Zuckerberg and Bosworth are not the guys next door who grab a clean t-shirt, jump on stage and spontaneously talk about their newest product. They’re managing a hugely successful company and they’re very good at it.

I think they also chose the right approach. In the past they weren’t very respectful of their users privacy and repeatedly tested the limits in ways that backfired. This time it’s all about being nice and helping you stay in touch with your friends and family (I should have counted how many times they used the word “Mom”) and having control over your communication channels.

I still don’t know how their “modern messaging system” works, but I understood that it offers “seamless integration” and helps map out the social graph”.

Video: Andrew Bosworth explains what it’s about

Here’s a video explaining the ideas behind Facebook’s new messaging system.

And if you missed the official announcement, here’s your chance to hear about the cousin who only uses SMS and the grandmother with her box of love letters.

I need an invite

Do I want to check out Facebook’s new messaging sytem including my own @facebook.com email address? Of course! It’s a shiny new toy and it might be great.

Will it be useful for me? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

Now if only I could get hold of an invite…

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