Facebook has trotted out a new messaging tool that aims to handle users' email and other communications across different services, taking on Google Inc's and Yahoo Inc's popular email platforms.
Addressing speculation that the world's largest social networking site was planning a "Gmail-killer," Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told reporters on Monday the new messaging system will let users own "facebook.com" addresses, just as Google and Yahoo subscribers get "google.com" and "yahoo.com" handles.
But Zuckerberg, who said more than 350 million of Facebook's half-billion users now actively send and receive messages on his website, stressed that he did not see the modern messaging system as being email-based.
Instead, the new feature lets users send instant and text messages in addition to standard email and Facebook communications, he said.
Facebook and Google's intensifying rivalry is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the internet. The industry is closely watching their pitched struggle for web surfers' time online, advertising dollars, and increasingly costly Silicon Valley talent.