Today's rumor-and-speculation zone features a report that Facebook, at a press event scheduled for Monday, will announce a web-based email service - basically @facebook.com email addresses for everyone.
It makes sense. An email-like service already exists within the Facebook network but isn't open to non-Facebookers. Creating email addresses with the domain name behind them would open that inbox to others.
Great. Just what I need - another email address.
In a post this morning, TechCrunch cites unnamed sources who say that the project is unofficially being referred to internally as a "Gmail killer." From the TechCrunch post:
Our understanding is that this is more than just a UI refresh for Facebook’s existing messaging service with POP access tacked on. Rather, Facebook is building a full-fledged webmail client, and while it may only be in early stages come its launch Monday, there’s a huge amount of potential here.
They're right. There is huge potential there. The TechCrunch post notes that, because Facebook knows about your habits on the site - that is, whose profile you regularly check out, whose photos you comment on, whose posts who share and so on - it can also probably figure out which messages are important to you and filter them accordingly.
It's an interesting idea, albeit completely speculative. Still, you can't deny that Facebook - with more than 500 million users, many of whom faithfully log on multiple times a day - could become a strong force in helping drive the future of online communications.
I'm no big fan of email in its current form so I'm hopeful that Facebook will do more than just announce an email service but will instead take email to some unknown new level that none of us has even dreamed of.
I know that's a lofty goal but I want to believe that the team at Facebook went to more trouble than just slapping a "@facebook.com" at the tail end of the user name it let me pick last year. Mary Jo Foley has her own source who tells her that Facebook's new email will include integration of Microsoft's Office Web Apps.
We'll know soon enough. I'll be at Monday's Facebook event and will report the details from a post on this blog.