SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook unveiled a new messaging platform Monday that takes aim at one of the Internet’s first applications, e-mail.

Though CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t go as far as declaring e-mail dead, he sees the four-decade-old technology as secondary to more seamless, faster ways of communicating such as text messages and chats. In other words, Facebook is betting that today’s high school students are on to something.

“We don’t think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail,” Zuckerberg said at a special event in San Francisco.

The new platform, which will be rolled out in the coming months, integrates cell phone texts, chats, e-mail and the existing Facebook messages. It seeks to bring together these forms of communication in one inbox, centered on the people sending it rather than the type of technology they use. Facebook will hand out @facebook.com e-mail addresses — mostly to make it easier to communicate with people who aren’t on Facebook.

“If we do a good job, some people will say this is the way that the future will work,” Zuckerberg said.

making e-mail part of its communications hub, Facebook escalates its duel with Internet search leader Google Inc., which shook up online communications 6½ years ago with its Gmail service. Google has also said it will roll out more social networking features to counter Facebook’s growing popularity.

Zuckerberg dismissed notions that the service is the “Gmail killer” the press has called it. At the same time, he said he thinks more people will forgo long e-mail exchanges in favor of shorter, more immediate chats.

Though e-mail is still a primary form of communication for older adults, recent studies suggest this is not the case for young people. Text messaging has surpassed face-to-face contact, e-mail, phone calls and instant messaging as the primary form of communication for U.S. teens, according to a 2009 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

The new service could heighten the privacy issues surrounding Facebook as its computers become a trove of personal data.