Facebook‘s brand new Messages system is mostly being described as a challenger to webmail services like Gmail. But Facebook has more than just email in its sights with Messages.
GroupMe lets users set up a single phone number to text a group of friends all at once. Because anyone with a cell phone can use GroupMe without ever having to sign up for anything, the service has taken off incredibly quickly.
But now Facebook is going to offer something very similar. The point of Messages is to let people keep all their communications — emails, IMs, and, yes, texts — in one place. Users will be able to send and receive messages on whatever platform they like — you can send me an email, but I might receive it as an IM or a text. Combined with the new Groups feature announced last month, this means Facebook is going to make it easy to set up groups of friends and text them all at once — exactly what GroupMe offers.
That doesn’t mean GroupMe is doomed, by any means. There are plenty of other services that you can use to do roughly the same thing. GroupMe is killing it because the execution is simple and user-friendly. Facebook’s service might not stack up.
But Facebook has clearly moved into GroupMe’s turf. That means doing everything right won’t be good enough any more for the smaller startup; Facebook also needs to do something wrong.