Speculation surrounding a possible Facebook email service (and a battle with Google’s gmail) ended today when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his highly anticipated announcement.
“This is a messaging system that includes email as part of it,” said the social networking entrepreneur. It will consist of chat, email, Facebook messages and SMS. Zuckerberg said the latest Facebook offering, what he calls a “modern messaging service,” can be broken down into three sections: seamless messaging , conversation history and the social inbox.
Here’s the breakdown:
The seamless messaging allows users to create a threaded conversation that contains multiple communication platforms such as SMS, instant messaging and email. If you talk with someone via chat, SMS, or email it will centralize that communication by placing it all in one place. With conversation history, if you choose to save your conversations, they will be archived and available to view anytime you choose. Lastly, the social inbox categorizes your communication based on importance. Yes, there may be room for error with this capability (i.e., if you’re using an instant messaging service outside of Facebook), but Facebook says it will attempt to rank your messages. One inbox will be based on a user’s social relations–those it deems “most important” to you. Another inbox will consist of messages it feels are not as important to you.
This latest capability will be available in the next several months. It is invite-only at first, however, eventually all Facebook users will be offered a Facebook email account, which will match their public username. Users can deny the email address if they choose.
With its 500+ million members, many tech watchers wondered if the new FB feature would pose a threat to Google (which currently has two-thirds of the search market) and go head-to-head with its gmail. Has Zukerberg thrown the first punch in the Facebook versus Google rivalry? Time (and signups) will only tell.
Tell us what you think: We all get annoyed occasionally by requests from additional services and sharing features offered by Facebook when really all we want to do is to conenct with our friends. But do you think you’d like to have a @facebook email? Take our poll!