Ronnie05's Blog

Facebook Webmail coming soon?

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on November 13, 2010

Facebook has close to 600 million users sticking to its networking services. That is half times larger than the population of Europe. The startling statistic is that every tenth person on Earth is on Facebook. Americans spend more of their time online with Facebook than with any other Internet company, including Google and Yahoo. In an earlier post, I had discussed how browsing through mobiles in catapulting Facebook into combinations of different domains. The reason driving this is the fact that Facebook is increasingly being seen as the one stop shop on Mobile social networks: It is used for networking, IM, eMail, Search, Location services, Content sharing, media sharing, opinion formation, discovering information, commerce and more. It is but natural that Mark Zuckerberg would look to quickly leverage these opportunities to build on the Facebook proposition in a larger sense. The more Facebook owns the digital day of its users, the more money they will make.

There have been a few reports of Facebook’s messaging product which is a fully featured webmail service called Project Titan. Analysts have since heralded it as the Gmail Killer (perhaps over-enthusiastically). The first reports that have filtered out since say that the Titan-coded-Facebook webmail will have full POP/IMAP support and come with the account name. Email is all about identity. And Facebook is ahead of everyone else in the identity game via Facebook Connect. Facebook has more than 60 million people log in to 80,000 third party websites each month via Facebook Connect. Tacking a real webmail product on top of those vanity URLs and Facebook connect is something even Google may shudder at. Which is where the Gmail killer enthusiasm springs from. Judging by Facebook’s 600 million user mass, established email giants such as Microsoft Hotmail (361.7 million users, comScore (Sept)), Yahoo (273.1 million users, comScore (Sept)) and Google Gmail (193.3 million users, comScore (Sept)) have some serious thinking to do about countering Facebook’s webmail product.

This then might be Facebook’s big surprise on the November 15th event. Facebook has acquired the domain. Facebook has the world’s most popular photos product, the most popular events product, and soon will have a very popular local deals product as well. If it can tweak the design of its webmail client to display content from each of these in a seamless fashion (and don’t forget messages from games, or payments via Facebook Credits) and also add the social element: Facebook knows users’ friends are and how closely connected they are; it can probably do a pretty good job figuring out which personal emails the user would want to read most and prioritize them accordingly.

Facebook mail could be a killer not only because of its potential size, but also because of its natural advantage of making mails more useful (by prioritizing by social networking linkages). It may become the only 100% useful mail service, showing only the mail that users are most interested in.

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