Facebook Chat enters Microsoft and Yahoo! turf

7 Apr 2008

Finally, popular social networking site Facebook begins delivering on its promise of an integrated IM (instant messaging) chat application as it begins rolling out the service this week, with initial availability on a limited number of networks from today.

The new chat application will work like Microsoft’s Live Messenger or Yahoo!’s Messenger in that it is real-time chat. However, as it is integrated with the user’s Facebook network of friends, no inivitations are required, the applications will automatically let the user know when someone on their friends’ list is currently online.

“Facebook will show users which of their friends are online when they are, so they do not need to create or maintain a separate buddy list. Users also do not have to worry about any additional installation or setup. Facebook Chat works directly in the browser,” said Facebook in an official statement on the site.

Currently not available in the Ireland network, Facebook Chat has already been tested by some in the US, including Justin Smith from www.insidefacebook.com who reports that users are notified of new chats by a red speech bubble which pops up.

If too many conversations are going on in the pop-up chat window, Smith reports that there is an option to isolate a pop-out window for one particular conversation, and for those who wish not to be disturbed by friends every time they log on, there exists the ability to appear off-line.

Most Facebook users will have heard of Scrabulous, the addictive, Scrabble-like game-cum-Facebook-application that was developed by brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla.

Originally, the brothers were threatened with legal action by Scrabble licence holders Mattel and Hasbro but now it seems that Mattel, in association with RealNetworks, has developed its own very Flash version of the game as a Facebook app.

While Mattel own the rights to Scrabble in Europe and the rest of the world, Hasbro own the rights in the US and Canada, meaning that although we Irish can play Facebook Scrabble to our hearts content, our US chums will not be able to join us for a game.

Scrabble on Facebook already has 1,779 daily users but this is nowhere near the fanbase that Scrabulous enjoys.

By Marie Boran