Facebook’s New Message: Email Is Dead

Kills unpopular service after WhatsApp deal

Facebook is so over email. The social network is shutting down its unpopular email service in yet another sign of the supremacy of mobile messaging.

Facebook has all but declared the age of email irrelevant after buying the text-messaging app WhatsApp for $16 billion (a deal worth $19 billion when stock awards are added). Instead of checking inboxes, mobile users check text messages and engage in real-time conversations.

Facebook just pulled the plug on the email service that it once thought would satisfy users’ need for an inbox dedicated to friends, not work. Facebook launched the service in 2010, giving users an @facebook account. But it was never a robust offering like gmail or outlook and never really caught on with users. For those who did use their accounts, messages will now be forwarded to their primary email addresses.

Facebook told re/code that it would focus more on messaging now that its email was out of the way.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg struck a deal with WhatsApp last week to acquire the app’s 450 million active users. Today in Barcelona, at Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg touted his company’s biggest acquisition to date.

Zuckerberg called WhatsApp a bargain, because there are few networks with the potential to reach more than a billion users, and those networks were more valuable than $20 billion, he said. The latest crop of messaging apps like Snapchat, WeChat, Line, Kik and Tango have lit up the mobile world, amassing tens of millions of users.

Also at the Mobile World Congress today, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum announced that his team was working on adding voice to the service, which has focused on text messaging exclusively. Koum has said his company would remain independent from Facebook even after the acquisition is expected to be completed later this year.