Facebook Mail: Is Email the New Snail Mail?

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Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, recently unveiled a ‘new messaging system’, titled Project Titan, in the Web 2.0 summit held recently in San Francisco. According to him, Facebook will provide users "@facebook.com" email address and allow access to their POP servers. This will enable users with a unified inbox where they can access their emails, IMs, chat messages and SMS conversations with their family and friends.

Popularly dubbed as the “Gmail killer”, Project Titan also focuses on providing integration with Microsoft Office Web Apps. Integration with cloud-based office productivity tools would provide the edge Facebook is looking for. During the event, when asked about Gmail, Mark Zuckerberg said that he considers Gmail as a great email service. However, he describes emails as too formal and slow to use.

Mark Zuckerberg also mentions that this messaging system is not “an email client”. It is a seamless messaging system with conversation history and social networking context all put together under a single view. He further explained that the objective was to simplify conversations and allow users to view messages from friends through a single thread without wading through SPAM.

However, Facebook still has some hurdles to cross over. First, it needs to ensure that the conversations that take place via their servers are safe and secure. Second, they need to assure people that their privacy is not violated and they are correctly addressed in the Terms and Conditions. As strong reactions to Facebook’s privacy settings still continue in the blogosphere, many comments indicate that the users are not happy with current Facebook privacy settings and are hesitant to sign up for the email address.

In 2009 Google launched Wave, which was also dubbed as ‘Email Killer’. Within a year, Google pulled the plug on Wave announcing that “it has not seen the user adoption we would have liked”. Mark Zuckerberg’s new messaging system, however, is entirely a different story. If everything goes well, we can definitely expect thousands if not millions of users’ signup once the feature is launched.

If Facebook assures users that it is safe to use the messaging (email?) client, it could mean a massive shift of users moving from regular email to Facebook. This could mean more traffic and more page views, meaning more revenue for Facebook through ads.

Will Facebook’s new messaging system win where Google Wave failed? Will Email become irrelevant with this new messaging system? Only time can answer this question.

Share your views on this ‘new messaging system’ in our comments section.

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Abhiroop Banerjee said...

Thanks Karthi, for a quick overview of Facebook's new feature-to-come. I've been hearing about this but felt lazy about trawling through ponderous articles on tech-centric sites. I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to social networking and the only reason I bother to use Facebook is because I didn't want to be the last person left on Orkut. I use Thunderbird access my email accounts and am okay with it, though it is somewhat clunky and, well, ugly. I find Facebook cluttered and there's just too much content that I have no control over how it is presented to me. You're unlikely to find me at the head of the queue for FB mail/messaging.

I will look forward to another concise write-up by Karthi however, when they do roll it out, because I am, if nothing else, curious :-)

December 3, 2010 at 9:36 PM
Karthi said...

Thanks for comment Abhiroop :)

I use Facebook primarily because most of my friends stopped using Orkut to communicate! There are certainly somethings in FB I don't have control over but it still one of the best social networking sites to use.

I don't believe that email messaging system is going to go away anytime soon. However, there are still some concerns about how Facebook is handling users' data. So I am skeptical about how the new email system will work. That said, the opportunity of an using a truly unified messaging system is just too good to resist.

There is still a lot of things that needs to be done. Hopefully I will be able to write more about it once I tried it.

December 3, 2010 at 11:24 PM

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