Facebook’s move into instant messaging could mark a blow for the troubled BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, which last month cut 2,000 jobs. It puts the social networking site in direct competition with BlackBerry’s popular Messenger, or BBM, which has been in the spotlight in recent days after it emerged that it was being used by rioters to gather in London and other British cities.
BBM has about 45 million users around the world, while Facebook has a user base of 750 million that it will seek to tap into.
The Facebook application allows users to contact multiple people at the same time and send messages to anyone on their friend lists.
Apple is also planning to include a group chat feature called iMessage on the latest version of its iPhones and iPads released in the autumn.
Google+, the social network from the search giant, introduced a mobile messenger service, Huddle, this year.