Facebook has distanced itself from recent rumours that it's trying – or at least that it tried – to buy IP-based messaging service Whatsapp, and has instead changed its own Messenger service to be more of a direct competitor.
The new Messenger app allows users to register and identify themselves using just their phone number – they don't need to be Facebook users at all, in other words.
It's a significant change, and one that shifts Messenger into direct competition with the more established Whatsapp. Users signed up using just their mobile number will be able to send messages, start group conversations and share photos.
To receive messages you need to be signed up with either Messenger or Facebook.
The change appears to be the start of Facebook's efforts to make up for having largely dropped the ball on IP-based messaging, an oversight that has seen Whatsapp (and others) grow rapidly over the past two years right under the noses of the established tech elite.
With Whatsapp's user count now sitting at around 100 million, it's no surprise that Facebook was interested – and also no surprise that its interest was rebuked.
Now it has to hold off the might of Facebook itself as a direct rival. Could be interesting.