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Facebook's sneak attack on the sleepy giants

I knew that somebody was going to cling to the underside of app data to sneak past the blinded cyclops that control the nation's/world's airwaves, but I didn't expect Facebook to be the first ones out.

Facebook announced last week their Facebook Messenger iPhone app, which is separate from regular Facebook app, is now capable of making phone calls. The calls are free and don't use any cellphone plan minutes. And you don't need to use anyone's phone number, just add them on Facebook.

Zach White

It has been an inevitability, as I explained earlier, that eventually someone would call out the cellphone service companies on the ridiculous charges they put on voice and texting data, even though those transactions are no different than any other data transmitted among our millions of devices every day.

I figured it would have probably been Google, with their Internet experiments in Kansas City, their market-saturating Android system, the miscellaneous future projects they're investing in, from self-driving cars to a recent wind farm in Texas.

If they spent a portion of their war chest on some sort of deal with wireless companies, or even just building their own, they could run the entire system however they want.

Apple could have done the same thing, with their similar pile of cash and their proclivity for shoving competition out of the way.

Even Microsoft could have, with their recent stupendously named Windows Phone 8 and existing Internet phone service Skype, which they've owned since 2011.

But instead it was Facebook, out of the blue.

Even their method of delivering the news was almost hidden. They announced the program first in Canada Jan. 3. Then they mentioned it coming to America, almost as a sidenote, while hyping their new Graph Chat, which I still don't really understand.

I'm sure that all the others will get there eventually. And the if you have any legal disputes you want done, you better get it done soon, because every courtroom, judge and attorney in the world will be required for the number of lawsuits that will ensue.

But perhaps, in the end, we may end up with a better, more affordable service and means of communication.

Or maybe the big companies will manipulate government policy to make starting innovative competing services.

Who knows ... .

(Zach White is a reporter for the Havre Daily News.)


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