Today Facebook announced a new messaging system that represents a major overhaul to their current very basic system. Roumers flew in the week before the announcement that Facebook would be announcing a “Gmail Killer”. It turns out the new Facebook messaging system is something altogether different and quite forward thinking.
In explaining the rationale behind the new system Mark Zuckerburg talked about how high schoolers use messaging which is quite different than older generations. I am firmly myself in the Email Generation meaning I was brought up with email as the primary means of personal communication via computers. I am used to email, I like email and email is what frames my messaging perspective.
The next generation, however, is coming from a completely different place. This generation has been brought up with small, smart cell phones and the explosion of text messaging. Micro messaging systems like Twitter have also been a key part of their experience. For this reason, I call them the 140 Generation after the 140 characters that make up a Twitter message. This generation’s messaging perspective is framed by short, quick hit communications across a variety of devices.
This is exactly the framework Facebook is targeting with their new messaging system. But Facebook is smart and understands there are two generations overlapping, so this new messaging system is a slow play. It will work perfectly well with existing email systems as well as newer systems like SMS. Facebook sees their new shorter, less formal system as the future and it will be up to the 140 Generation to make this come to pass. No technology will in itself kill email, only users will by their habits and needs. Facebook will be there to pick up the pieces.