Confirmed: Facebook to shut down Beluga

Facebook said Friday it will shut down Beluga, the social text messaging service acquired by the social networking giant in March 2011.

This is not an unexpected move: GigaOM first reported that Beluga’s future was up in the air in August, when Facebook debuted the Facebook Messenger mobile app. The development of Facebook Messenger was led by Beluga’s three-person founding team, Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow. As we wrote then, “It would be a bit sad to see Beluga go, but with the new debut of Facebook Messenger — a fully featured project that has been the top priority for Beluga’s founding team for nearly six months — it would not be especially surprising.”

The end of Beluga is now officially nigh. The company explained the move in a blog entry posted on its website that reads in part:

“Now that Facebook Messenger is available everywhere, we’ve decided to stop offering Beluga as a separate service. You can keep using Beluga for now, but we’ll be phasing it out over the next few weeks:

Starting November 11, you’ll no longer be able to use Beluga to send messages, but you can still get to your old messages on the Beluga app and website. If you want, you can also download an archive of your pods.

On December 15, the Beluga service will shut down completely, and you’ll no longer be able to access your old pods or messages.”

Facebook Messenger, meanwhile, has been expanding significantly. The company says the app is now available worldwide in 22 languages, and it’s available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry phones.