Facebook email: Is this actually an enterprise play?

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.
Written by Christopher Dawson on

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.


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