I spent some time looking at FriendVox today. FriendVox is Facebook’s integrated Instant Messenger application that has been in Alpha for some time now.
There has been some recent chatter about why its even necessary for Facebook to have a separate system built upon its platform when the network already allows you to search for friends across your existing external instant messaging platforms.
I guess the difference here is that the tool is proprietary to Facebook and that the data may be used in the future for contextual advertising purposes or other. This combined with Facebook’s foray into the mobile world where instant messaging has already been nestling quite comfortably make the move a logical one.
The tool is integrated with an application called "Socialistics". Socialistics is a tool that tracks your friends’ activities with pretty charts and graphs. The application streams current profiles and delivers notifications on the fly. So, not only are all member contacts (even the unwanted ones) in one central location, but now they're super-accessible. The fact that it's built to be ensconced in one’s social graph will go a long way to building a loyal user base.
Chatting is a natural fit to the environment. Currently there are over 700 topical chats in the form of old school posts ranging in topics from “I Never” to “Addicted to That 70’s Show".
It's the mobile aspect that intrigues me though. Facebook has just launched its mobile application so that the network's main functions are now available on the go across most if not all mobile devices. Linking an instant messaging service would compliment the user-experience nicely. It is after all, big business. Frost & Sullivan projected the global market for all mobile messaging services—SMS, MMS, mobile IM and mobile e-mail—to exceed $100 billion by 2010. $15 billion (for IM) is not bad in the grand scheme of things...
With all the mini applications lurking around the Facebook platform today, it will be interesting to see what kinds of mash-ups will be developed across the messaging platform once it has been deployed and adopted.
Look out Skype…