Facebook on Sunday began a slow roll-out of its new Chat service.
Justin Smith at Inside Facebook has a tour of the new service. Justin's quick review concludes that Facebook Chat is a "very compelling experience that will spell trouble for legacy IM networks that haven't built vibrant social networks around their friend lists (i.e. AIM). By making Facebook more real time/presence oriented, Facebook session length should go up a lot. Facebook will become an important player in IM very soon."
It looks like Facebook is taking a slow approach to make sure that it can handle the increased load and scaling as users start playing with Chat, which is apparently just on a few networks so far.
In mid-March, Facebook gave a preview of the service and said it would be out in about two weeks. "When you log in to the site there is a Chat (user interface) at the bottom of the browser," product manager Peter Deng said at the time. "It's unobtrusive and there when you need it." No download will be required for Chat, which integrates with a user's Facebook friends list, and it works with all browsers, according to Deng.
More to come from Webware