facebook_msgr.jpg Facebook's (news, site) new Messenger App could blow a big hole in existing VoIP services and wreck the market for newcomers.

A New Face?

Having dominated social media, Facebook has made a fortune helping friends stay in touch, with just enough distance provided by walls and messages to stop people feeling hassled or put-upon by the new social etiquette. But in the neverending quest for further revenue, it has to take new steps constantly.

So, now we have Facebook Messenger, a paid-for app available on Apple's App Store for US$ 2.99 (UK£ 1.79) with push notifications that provides your Facebook inner circle of family and friends with mobile chat and free voice-over-IP calling between iOS devices or to the desktop.


Voice Battle

So, just as Skype boasts a new record of 29.5 million concurrent users, the leading VoIP company faces a pressing new challenge, while the likes of Viber -- which launched a couple of weeks ago with a HD voice service -- could see its business blown out of the water. Sure, this won't massively dent Skype's paying business user community, but casual chats between the massed Facebook userbase could soon see Skype's numbers affected.

With HTC having launched Facebook-branded phones, it is clear the social company has turned its eyes to mobile in a major way. The app was developed outside of Facebook by CrispApp and allows users to flip between chatting and talking or browsing friend's walls to maintain a social connection in the most appropriate format.

Desktop users you call get a Flash app appear that looks similar to the mobile version, when they accept the message. The iPhone app is multi-tasking and can also post photos or videos. No word on an Android or Blacknerry version yet, but they are likely in the pipeline.