Yup, it's real:
Today I'm excited to announce the next evolution of Messages. You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, email or Messages. They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time. You shouldn't have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use. Simply choose their name and type a message.
We are also providing an @facebook.com email address to every person on Facebook who wants one. Now people can share with friends over email, whether they're on Facebook or not. To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.
That's from a blog post by Facebook's Joel Seligstein, who says that the newly unveiled Facebook Messages will sort through your inbox and attempt to separate the messages you care about (those from your friends) from the bank statements, spam, and job queries.
TechCrunch reports from the Facebook press conference and quotes Mark Zuckerberg saying that Messages is, "not an email killer. This is a messaging experience that includes email as one part of it." Which actually kind of sounds like he thinks that Facebook Messages could replace email. From Seligstein:
Relatively soon, we'll probably all stop using arbitrary ten digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other. We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly. We aren't there yet, but the changes today are a small first step.