Facebook has announced today that it will allow users with no account to sign up for its Messenger IM service using just a phone number. This puts it right in the same market as WhatsApp, Pinger and many other services that bypass traditional SMS by using data.
Recently, it was rumoured that Facebook would purchase WhatsApp to bolster its place in the instant messenger space, of which the world’s biggest social network wants a larger piece. Facebook for Android already allows users to use the app as their main messaging portal, and this just goes one step further.
After signing up, Facebook will securely upload a list of your contacts to their servers — WhatsApp and Kik do this, too — to match up your address book with existing Facebook users, and will spit out a list of names you can interact with.
This functionality is coming first to Android today, and iOS in the coming weeks.