Facebook has been adding services and features since its inception, trying to appeal to as much of its 200 million plus user base as it can. One of the features that proved very popular, so popular that MySpace has implemented it itself, is the integrated chat web client FbChat. The product has been growing in features and use and now boasts over 1 billion messages sent through the system each day.
“Facebook Chat usage has increased steadily since its launch last year, and this week we reached 1 billion messages sent per day. As a team we've been looking forward to this milestone; we track lots of statistics in the course of maintaining and improving Chat, but this number measures Chat's progress toward its ultimate goal: increasing communication between our users, ” wrote
Chris Pio, software engineer at Facebook.
The number is impressive, considering that FbChat has only been around for a little while, compared to other more established chat clients and protocols like Microsoft's Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger or AOL Instant Messenger, which still reigns in the US. Taking into account the official number of 200 million users, though newer estimates say Facebook has as much as 300 million users worldwide, it would mean that every user sends 4 to 5 messages every day. Of course, the messages aren't distributed evenly across all users but it's clear that for some FbChat has replaced other IM clients.
However, while the FbChat's rise may be impressive it's still far behind popular IM protocols and not having a dedicated, standalone, desktop client may prevent some users from replacing their current IM. Nothing is stopping Facebook from launching such a client, though it would probably prefer that users stuck with the web-based one, keeping them coming to the website and, hopefully clicking on some ads. However, a move in this direction has already been made as third-party clients like Meebo and Digsby are already supporting the protocol.