Google is getting ready to unveil a new social feature to Gmail, unlocking the ability for users to share media and update their status messages the same way they do on Facebook or Twitter, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Moments after the Journal posted its report. citing unnamed sources, I received an invitation to a press event on the Google campus tomorrow morning where the company will showcase "some innovations in two of our most popular products."
I'm glad there's still some element of surprise left to Google's news tomorrow. Too much hype before a news event can lead to disappointment when the announcement can't live up to the build-up (as was the case with Apple's iPad.)
With that said, I'm not big on the whole concept of putting status updates in every Web property I visit - and so many are trying to do just that these days. Still, I recognize that this is about more than just status updates. This is about changing the way we communicate with each other over the Internet.
A while back, I argued that e-mail was such an old school - and ineffective - way of handling communications. My argument was out there a day before Google introduced a new collaboration property called Wave. That service is still largely a work-in-progress and hasn't gone mainstream yet.
But I point it out because I see this step of bringing a social network element to Gmail as the next in a shift away from e-mail and closer to a full-fledged communications suite that includes mail, instant message, real-time collaboration and, of course, sharing of media and status updates.
It may not look like that when Google unveils whatever it's unveiling tomorrow but I'll keep telling myself that this is just another step toward the holy grail of communications.