Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

Summary: Gmail's alive and well after today's announcement about Facebook's new social/integrated inbox. However, about 450 million people (my son included) are mighty eager for invites to the @facebook.com beta.

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OK, so I was wrong about a possible enterprise play with Facebook's new email system, unveiled Monday. At least for now, until progressive businesses think the idea of integrated, customized, social inboxes might not be so bad. Still, there was no shortage of pundits who speculated that this would be a Gmail-killer whatever it was. While they were wrong, too, Google execs and investors are hardly breathing a sigh of relief.

As ZDNet's Sam Diaz pointed out,

The jury will be out for a bit on whether Facebook’s effort is a winning solution or whether people will actually start using it...But the idea that some users, including the younger users who already prefer SMS and Facebook over traditional email systems, will shift the winds for future generations is something that makes me hopeful - hopeful that the clunky e-mail systems of today will someday be history.

After all, Gmail users can send and receive SMS, voice, IM, and email messages within their inboxes. Google also provides some automatic sorting of emails into their new Priority Inbox, so Facebook hasn't introduced much to which Google doesn't have an answer.

Google's integrated messaging, however, isn't all that integrated. It's fairly disjointed and lacks the customizability in terms of preferred interface (e.g., receiving emails as IMs if a use prefers the messaging utility) that Facebook will be rolling out. What Facebook really has going for it here, though, is, well, Facebook.

For those of us who take Facebook with a grain of salt, this isn't a game changer. But Google's continued conspicuously absent social components leave Gmail and its SMS, IM, and voice/video chat widgets feeling a bit long in the tooth. I mean, everything's supposed to be social now, right?

I'm not a giant Facebook fan and I essentially live, eat, and breathe all things Google. That being said, I can't help but feel that it's time for Google to focus on making Google Me (or whatever their social thing turns out to be) a reality. Part of this reality also needs to be very tight integration of Me, email, Docs, and Android, allowing Google to leapfrog Facebook's latest advances. Oh yeah, and that social component? It better be a part of Google Apps, too, giving Apps customers the option to bring social interactions to their businesses that go way beyond what Microsoft can offer with hosted SharePoint.

Obviously this is a tall order. But the timing is important. Probably the most telling thing I heard all afternoon and evening as the analysts dug into @facebook.com didn't come from some blogger. It came from my oldest son who uses technology like any other digital native but is fairly indifferent to most of it.

"Dad, you'll probably get an invite pretty soon to this new Facebook email. Can you make sure you send me an invite?"

This from the kid who never checks his Gmail anymore and doesn't realize that his school school's email system is Google Apps for Education.

What does it mean that he watched Zuckerberg's webcast live while I waited until tonight to watch it? He doesn't even watch TV shows live. Facebook has one heck of an audience. So does Google in their search business, but there's more to life than search. It's high time that Google upped its game. All the pieces are there, save social. We can't be letting Facebook set the bar for online communications, can we?

Topics: Collaboration, Google, Social Enterprise

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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12 comments
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  • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

    It may be a popular amongst all those not concerned about their privacy. But for me, Facebook email is a huge privacy concern. Facebook doesnt give us privacy so why will their email be any different? My emails are too personal for them to be on Facebook's servers and there is no way I'm using Facebook to email. Instead, I have deactivated Facebook account and will join safer social networking platforms such as MyCube our Diaspora as soon as they release, and if you are concerned about privacy I recommend you do the same.
    vishal_bhardhwaj
    • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

      @vishal_bhardhwaj, the problem is that you have to be where everyone else is. That's the whole point of social. You can't be off on some oddball system unless everyone you interact with is there, too.
      drumichael87
      • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

        @drumichael87

        True...which is why I prefer e-mail. Doesn't matter which system you are on, you can still talk with everyone else. Closed proprietary systems are fine for people who need protection, like AOL and kids, but the rest should be able to hook in from anywhere they prefer.
        plonk@...
    • Facebook Privacy...

      @vishal_bhardhwaj Okay, you say it is not secure and they don't care about your privacy. Here is a general rule of thumb: if you don't want anyone to see it, then don't post it. Privacy starts with the user himself/herself, not with a corporate/web-application entity. Also, try and see if you can find any info about me from my Facebook account (<a href="http://facebook.com/John.A.Clarke" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://facebook.com/John.A.Clarke</a>). Can't find anything, now can you? Stop blowing the privacy horn mate, wake up and do a little research yourself. /rant
      john_clarke
      • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

        @john_clarke

        You may have control over what you post, but you don't have control over what people send you. People you know may well say something in an e-mail or other communication that you really don't want to have be public and there's nothing much you can do about that.

        Given Facebook's past history with privacy, or even keeping their promises, I wouldn't want to trust them, or their third party app developers, with access to my supposedly private communications. I don't even want Google doing that, which is why I don't use Google mail either. Especially not for anything covered by an NDA (like most of what I do for a living is).
        plonk@...
  • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

    @Christopher Dawson I completely agree with your blog. Personally i think Facebook will screw it up.
    cybursoft
  • Facebook Email can hit the market

    surely if this is more compatable and user friendly than gmail,then it would certainly hit the market..

    http://www.ecommerce-web-developers.com
    ecommerce web developer
  • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

    @cybursoft

    Agreed, but I doubt that will stop the cyber-lemmings from leaping off that cliff.
    plonk@...
    • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

      @plonk@... HAHA very true. Facebook has quite the reputation, and considering that they've got 5x more page views that Google on any given day, you can bet that the cyber-lemmings will be all over that<a href="http://www.star-signs.org" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">.</a> :P
      quarkygeek
  • Facebook Email: Is a Google Wave killer...

    Oops.. too late.
    PolymorphicNinja
  • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

    I use Facebook to find old friends; newly widowed and back in my hometown, I'm looking for Networking resources. I wouldn't use their email for the same reasons I don't post personal info on my FB profile. Who will they share it with next?
    I saw the light, when every page I visited, had my name and FB posted when I signed in.
    I agree, Mr. Dawson, Google Me, Gmail and everything Google; l take all things Google. I've yet to be disappointed with anything I Google or have Googled.
    Teakie
  • RE: Facebook Email: Not a Gmail killer, but my kid wants an invite

    Google and facebook are trying beat to each other where they are dominating .

    <a href="http://www.viralseoservices.com/">Viralseoservices</a>
    Viralseoservices