It's been almost a year since Facebook started to roll out its own web-based instant messaging system. Back then, we wondered if Facebook Chat would kick Windows Live Messenger's ass. Time to check the score so far!
Windows Live Messenger
- Age: +9 years
- Number of users: 325 million
- Number of Instant Messages per day: 10 billion
- Peaktime: unknown
- Age: 11 months
- Number of users: 117 million
- Number of chat messages per day: +300 million
- Peaktime: +4 million active channels
Note that the number of Facebook Chat users includes those who have chatted at least once, i.e. 67% of Facebook's 175 million accounts. Nevertheless, the chat service attracted more than a third of Windows Live Messenger's users in about 1/10th of the time. The record adoption rate is an achievement which is applicable to Facebook in general. The popular social network is growing by five million new users every week, and assuming two out of three users try Facebook Chat, it'll take them less than one year and three months to reach the current userbase of Windows Live Messenger.
But will we really speak of a takeover on the projected date of (ceteris paribus) May 2010? Even though the numbers are impressive and probably very intimidating to Microsoft -and any other company in the world- Facebook Chat needs an awful lot of improvement before it can compete with Windows Live Messenger. Where's the contact list, for example? When will they enable group conversations? And how about permanent chat history? Until these features are added, Facebook Chat is not exactly poaching on Messenger's territory. Until these features are added, they can easily coexist.
Both services aim to "connect people", but Windows Live Messenger is clearly a private communication tool, while Facebook is more of a broadcasting tool with photos and status updates being its most popular features. Their growing userbases will surely overlap, more and more. Did you know the first-ever message on Facebook Chat was actually: "msn chat?" (see this video)
It ain't no battle of the titans yet, but let's enter the arena again somewhere in May next year. Meanwhile, I'll keep an eye on Facebook... You never know... ;)