Dec 4th, 2012

Facebook wants their Messenger app to be the default way people communicate, and they know the only way to accomplish that goal is to open the service to as many people as possible. That is why the social media giant has stripped the account requirement for Facebook Messenger from the app’s most recent Android version.

Instead of having to log in to Facebook, users can sign into the app using only their name and phone number. From there, it’s as easy as drafting up a message and sending it off. It’s a curious approach from a company that at one point limited membership to only those with a college email address, but it’s all in the name of ubiquity.

Just yesterday, as the SMS turned 20, we asked if the text message still holds a relevant place in the smartphone era. Over 50 percent of our readers say that the text is still their primary form of communication, but 35 percent say they rely at least in some part on other messaging services such as Facebook, GTalk, and email. SMS is still in heavy use largely thanks to the fact that it is compatible with all mobile phones. A messaging service won’t do much good if your friends and family aren’t also using it.

In the end, removing an account requirement from the Messenger app is a win-win for Facebook. The service becomes more intriguing to those looking for a ubiquitous experience and should entice the few stragglers left to sign up for a full-fledged Facebook account. But there is still a ways to go. For starters, access for users without a Facebook account will be limited to India, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela, and South Africa. The update will reach other countries (and the iOS version of the app) down the road.

[via The Verge]