Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

Summary: Facebook email could actually represent a big "Uh-oh" moment for Google. Especially if those Office Web App integration rumors turn out to be true.

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So about this Facebook event on Monday...ZDNet's Sam Diaz will be there and will let us know just how much truth there is to the rumors of a new email service being rolled out to Facebook users. Mary Jo Foley has heard a rumor though, that just might have Google execs shaking in their boots. Potential integration of Facebook, email, and Office Web Apps might actually represent Facebook's first enterprise play.

As Mary Jo explains,

Microsoft already provides its own Facebook + Office Web Apps mash-up, known as Microsoft Docs. Via Docs, Office Web Apps users can share their documents via Facebook with their friends. But my source says Facebook’s announcement on Monday will take things a step further by directly integrating Office Web Apps access into the new Facebook e-mail — much like Microsoft does now with Hotmail.

Gosh, this is starting to sound a lot like Google Apps, isn't it? Only, of course, with that missing social piece with which Google has been struggling for years now. You can still turn on Wave and Buzz, for example, within Google Apps for your users, but would you really want to?

It may seem farfetched to call this an enterprise play. We don't even know for sure if Facebook is unveiling an email service. Let's give ourselves the luxury of speculation for a moment, though, shall we? Microsoft has already shown that it can integrate its email services into large communications structures as it did with its Live@Edu product for an ePals partnership. It frequently supplies its email and Web Apps services to third parties for branded email services. What if Windows Live services become the back end for a Facebook email?

It isn't much of a stretch to then imagine the reciprocal, with businesses, schools, and organizations who use Live services being able to leverage Facebook communications and single sign-on.

I know, I'm rumor-mongering, so I'll stop there. Here's the real point, regardless of Microsoft's involvement. Adding email services to Facebook will make Gmail irrelevant for a whole lot of people. Gmail only has 193 million users compared to Facebook's 500 million. Now that Google no longer allows the automatic importing of contacts into Facebook, many users may be more than happy to leave the hassle of multiple accounts behind and simply use Facebook's internal services.

I can't think of any scenarios for Monday that actually represent good news for Google. I can think of quite a few, however, that represent genuinely bad news for the company, particularly if Facebook looks to be trying to take a chunk out of Google's Apps pie.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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31 comments
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  • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

    i dont trust facebook with social networking and my email account is much more personal than my social profile. there is no way i will use facebook for email after reading about the privacy issues it has been involved it. i am switching to Diaspora or Mycube,social networking startups, which are offering enhanced privacy options, and will continue to use google mail for email. atleast my personal information wont be compromised
    vishal_bhardhwaj
    • The younger crowd does not share your paranoia. With social networking,

      what matters is critical mass, and Facebook has that.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

        @DonnieBoy Yes, but Google has 2 : 5 ratio, its not like its 1:100 which would be hard for Google to get market share away from. Plus Google is known and well respected, so is FB, but both have had their faux-pas lately that will make people And the other facet is that we are talking 2 different playing fields, one is social and the other one is personalbusiness related.
        quentinjs
      • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

        @DonnieBoy But the question is, is Facebook enterprise play? Clearly no. For one, it has no current intentions of doing so. Secondly, imagine enterprise email without subject lines? It seeks to bring together people in informal and closely knit groups. This is clearly not the case in enterprises. No matter how social an organization is, there has to be some formality, and some barriers. You might want to read my blog about it - http://bit.ly/bvLK5A
        pankajunk
    • So, you're concerned about privacy...

      @vishal_bhardhwaj

      ...yet you admit you use Google mail. You really don't have a clue, do you?
      itpro_z
      • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

        @itpro_z
        Facebook is discovered to be engaging in blatant privacy invasions every week, and their excuse is always a weak 'Whoops, we are so sorry, trust us, we wont do it again, promise." Gmail states publicly that no personal info is shared with advertisers, whereas Facebook almost brags about how much they give to third parties.
        MyMac
  • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

    Facebook can never take take a chunk out of Google?s Apps pie. It is just too insecure to do so. Facebook email will be complete insecure and full of bugs. It will be easy to hack content will be insecure. It will be very interesting to see how secure MyCube and Diaspora actually are. If they do live up to their expectations then they can be the next big thing
    craigmiller123
    • Well, I would not discount the ability of Facebook to deliver secure and

      reliable email. The question is the spin they will put on email and if that is enough to attract a lot of users.
      DonnieBoy
    • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

      @craigmiller123

      Since the rumors are pointing to Microsoft powering the backend they have the experience required to make sure Email and Apps are secured.

      Plus, I would easily say 400 million of those facebook users are unlikely to share your concerns. Which would immediately put it ahead of any other webmail service.
      LiquidLearner
      • What??? Microsoft powering the backend with Windows is a guarantee it will

        NOT be secure.
        DonnieBoy
  • Facebook and Microsoft versus Google

    This is an exciting news both for Facebook and Microsoft. The collaboration of these 2 have a great potential. However, this spells trouble for Google. Many detractors of Facebook and Microsoft may despise this move but 500 million+ users will benefit from this. Google can try to create their own social network but it will fail. With reports that people are visiting Facebook more often than Google is a sign. Google is on it's spiral slide down. Facebook is using Bing.
    iluvmsft
    • Well, Microsoft must also be a little careful with Facebook. It is the

      combination of all the competition that is a problem for Microsoft, NOT just Google. It is the combo of Apple AND Google in mobile that is the challenge for Microsoft. It is the combo of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc, that will reduce the importance of MS Office and Windows.
      DonnieBoy
  • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

    Look, we need to stop ourselves for a moment and remember the same thing happened already... MySpace launched email service for its users 3-4 years ago, and it went nowhere (save for me using it as a spam catch-all email address)

    If you already have Gmail, you won't leave; you're already embedded into the Google eco-system. Also remember, 80% of corporate nets BLOCK the facebook.com domain so you can't access it at work. Not true with google... I can see some teens using FBmail as their new email home... And that's something to watch, because those teens and early 20-somethings eventually become corporate workers too...
    starrwulfe
    • Well, Face book will likely create a new domain for corporate email, but,

      look for them to focus the email service on the younger crowd to start.
      DonnieBoy
    • That's what I . . .

      @starrwulfe

      was going to point out: Facebook is blocked by just about every company I know, mainly so keep their employees from wasting company time commenting about their sister-in-law's friend's stepson's ballgame, etc.

      Youtube gets blocked for the same reason.
      JLHenry
  • You're kidding, right?

    Facebook and enterprise in the same sentence? Does anyone [b]not[/b] think that Facebook mail will be nothing but a swamp of spam and malware? The only connection Facebook mail will have to the enterprise is that fbmail.com will [i]instantly[/i] be on the blacklist of every corporate mail server.
    matthew_maurice
    • Well, maybe not for the enterprise, but, I am sure that Facebook will do

      very well with the younger crowd. We need to wait and see what spin Facebook can add to email.
      DonnieBoy
  • Well, adding email is a smart move by Facebook, but, I think it will take

    share from all of the players, though it will be first with the younger crowd.
    DonnieBoy
  • RE: Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

    They have good grounds to succeed. They know 500M people worldwide by their first name.
    itchybites
  • Don't be surprised if Microsoft factors in

    Keep in mind Folks that MS tossed into the hat a tidy sum (~$240M) to fuel development and 'their interests'.

    So, expect to see some of their 'moving parts' appear in FB.

    But, there's no way I'll use an email ****@facebook.com for my ongoing communication.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate