Monday, November 15, 2010

Facebook's Idea of Email

Image from MaximumPC

To no one's surprise, Facebook announced their new email/messaging service today.  If you have no idea what I am talking about then stop right now and read this post first.  If you do know what I am talking about then continue on past the break to see if the rumors were true and if anything unexpected was announced.

Facebook's New Messaging Service

Mark Zuckerberg made sure that he avoided saying the word email as much as possible today because according to him, Facebook is not trying to get into the email business.  Well, not today anyway.  Instead Facebook revealed a new messaging service that aggregates your messages from multiple sources.  The features of this new messaging service are listed below:

  • Aggregates your email, SMS (text messages), Facebook Messages, and IMs from chat clients.
  • You can get a email address, though it is not required.
  • Like Gmail it will have threaded messages.  
  • Unlike Gmail it will keep a thread of every conversation you have had with a particular person in one thread.
  • There will a filtered/prioritized friends inbox, as was rumored.  (read more here)
Is This The Next Big Thing And Death Of Email?

A lot of people seem to think this will be the death of email.  It even seemed like Zuckerberg was subconsciously sending that message by avoiding saying the word email during his keynote.  Gizmodo seems to think this is the end of email by pointing out that the next generation of kids is growing up on tweets, SMS, and Facebook Status updates.  They don't use email because they need "instant communication."

Do I think this is the death of email?  I don't.  I think Facebook is doing some smart things by removing CC, BCC, and subject fields from the new message service, but this is just an improvement to email.  They are basically taking some of the smart features of email, tweets, IMs, and SMS and incorporating them into their messaging system.  None of this is really new.  And to be perfectly honest Google Wave did a lot of these things and more when it was launch two years ago.  However Google did end up killing future development of Google Wave.  So that brings us to the next question.

Will this be the next big thing?  It might be.  Facebook has around 500 million users, so there is already a huge installed base that is ready to start using this thing.  So far Facebook is also doing a much better job launching and explaining to its users what this new system is then Google ever did for Google Wave.  But I just don't see myself leaving Gmail to use this when Gmail already works so well for me.  The much touted prioritized/filtered friends inbox is a neat feature, but it is a solution for a problem that I don't have.

How about you, will you use this new messaging service instead of your current email account?  Is the new filtered/prioritized friend inbox the killer feature you have been waiting for?  Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Gizmodo

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