Facebook announced today that it will shut down Beluga, a group text messaging service, which it acquired earlier this year. Facebook’s recently launched Messenger app offers many of the same features.

Beluga is a mobile app that made it easy for groups of people to communicate through web and text messages. Users could create custom chat rooms, called pods, to share text, images, and location. It was especially handy this year at SXSW where many teams and attendees used the app to communicate.

Facebook Messenger – which allows users to send messages directly to friends from a mobile device – was released in August and the development was actually done by Beluga’s three-person team.

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

As of November 11, Beluga users will no longer be able to send messages. You will still be able to access old messages until December 15, when everything will be deleted.

While this move doesn’t come as much of a surprise, it’s certainly a hiccup to any team, whether mobile or not, that relied on the service for communication. However, there are still a number of group text messaging services available that don’t require Facebook accounts to use.

[Via: TechCrunch, Image credit: Joi Ito]