Facebook updates messenger app to attract users

Updated: 2012-12-05 10:50


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SAN FRANCISCO - Social networking giant Facebook on Tuesday rolled out its new Messenger app, allowing mobile phone users without Facebook account to sign up the service with a phone number.

With no Facebook account and email address required, app with the new feature will be first available to users of phones running on Google's Android platform in India, Indonesia, Australia, Venezuela and South Africa, according to the company.

Facebook updates messenger app to attract users

The Facebook logo is seen on a screen inside at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York in this May 18, 2012 file photograph. [Photo/Agencies]

The sign up option using phone number will be rolled out globally and its version for users of Apple's iPhone as well as other smartphone platforms are also under way, said Facebook.

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and video communication.

Its mobile version was released last year for major smartphone platforms, but users need to sign up with a Facebook account.

The latest move is expected to help Facebook reach a larger audience, attracting smartphone users with no Facebook account to gradually use more Facebook services.

Meanwhile, Facebook's updated app is also seen as another challenge against phone carriers' Short Message Service (SMS) as text messaging turned 20 on Monday.

On Dec 3, 1992, a British engineer sent the text message "Merry Christmas" from his personal computer to a phone via the Vodafone network. Since then, SMS has turned into a high-margin business for phone carriers and is expected to bring $150 billion to the industry in 2013.

However, technology companies like Apple and Blackberry-maker Research In Motion have been developing their messaging services over years, offering users to send messages via Wi-Fi or cellular network with no further fees.