The new Facebook Service is more than Email – it’s a Must for your “Office”

November 16th, 2010



Most of the pre-announcement press regarding Facebook’s big proclamation on November 15 circulated around the possibility that the world’s biggest social network was about to take on its biggest rival, Google, in the email game. Or even more amazingly, they were about to announce the end of email as we know it.

As it turns out, the answer to that speculations are a bit premature. Email isn’t going away; rather, Facebook is attempting to match and overtake Google in the messaging features game. Facebook’s ultimate aim is to make messaging between users much more efficient.

facebook_vs_google In his speech in San Francisco on Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the latest version of the company’s Messages system, which combines SMS (texting), chat, email and Facebook messages.

What’s more – and this is the big surprise—Facebook users with Windows office installed on their computers will now be able to share documents by simply attaching them to messages, emails etc.

The move is seen as an attempt by both Facebook and Microsoft to try to grab some of Google’s Gmail pie, which has quickly put away the competition from other once formidable email providers. (Consider, for example, that AOL made a big announcement one day before Facebook that they, too, had overhauled their email service and user interface. Hardly anyone took notice.

So what real advantage does this present for Facebook users? For example, if you want to send someone a message with an attachment, you don’t have to leave Facebook to do it. This in essence saves you time. Of course, it’s also a big advantage for Facebook, since you’re staying on the site longer. It can analyze the subject matter of your email headlines and make determinations on things you might see or buy.

Zuckerberg was quick to say the new Messages was “not an e-mail killer,” perhaps in response to the increasing number of users under 25 who don’t use traditional email, thinking it’s too slow. Rather, Zuckerberg says Facebook is presenting email in a Facebook style that presents it as an ongoing conversation.

Facebook engineer Joel Seligstein agrees. In a blog post, he writes: “To be clear, (Facebook)Messages are not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, nor bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key.” (However, anyone who wants it can request an “@Facebook.com” email address, since email is how most businesses and people over 18 still communicate.)

Seligstein speculates that phone text service itself could someday be changed to eliminate dialing a phone number. Rather, you would simply push a button indicating whom you need to message, and then send it

This could be a very exciting time for email, if Facebook Messages proves to be as convenient as it says it will be. Rollout will be gradual, which will allow Facebook’s most avid users to work out the bugs first before the community at large tries it out.

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