The feature hasn’t even been officially announced yet and already the ‘Will Facebook kill Gmail, Hotmail, etc.’ speculations are popping up all over the Net.
I don’t know about ‘kill’ per se, but Facebook will definitely give the big guns a run for their money.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, I’m sure you know about the sheer size of Facebook’s user base and the fact that massive numbers of people will likely jump all over this feature. Look how many people line up for hours to buy any hot new gadget, or to get on board with any new Internet technology. Social media does an amazing job of generating a frenzied interest in the Next Big Thing, and it certainly knows how to benefit from its own marketing. Can you do any better than getting Hollywood on board?
Facebook’s structure and popularity certainly give it some built-in advantages: they already know your contacts, so it is expected that it’ll provide a priority-inbox like feature that can sort and prioritize your messages based on the frequency of your communication with real friends.
But many others are saying not so fast: there are equally valid reasons why many people won’t adopt this new webmail no matter what bells and whistles it offers.
Facebook fundamentally – is geared towards personal communication, not corporate, and many companies either have or are considering placing a ban on its access in the workplace.
This true story lends strength to the non-business side: I have a salesman friend who was working on a very sizeable purchase order from his largest, most important customer. Because of the amount of money involved, it took longer than usual for the client to arrange for financing. My friend’s boss, frustrated by the delay, took matters into his own hands. He tracked down the client’s Facebook page and sent a ‘friend’ request. The client, not really sure who he was, accepted the invitation. He was immediately hit with messages demanding to know what was happening with the purchase and why was it taking so long. Outraged, the client replied that his Facebook page was for personal use only, not for business, and immediately blocked all forms of communication from the boorish boss. Needless to say, the sale didn’t go through.
So, in the client’s mind, and in the minds of many users, Facebook is not a communication channel for business and likely never will be. And, given all the security and privacy breaches and its attraction for malware, there is a very large population that will never move away from the tried and true.
There’s a time and a place for everything and an email client for every purpose. Facebook’s webmail will no doubt become popular for a portion of the population, but by no means should we be making funeral arrangements for any of the others.
- ‘Why You’ll Give Up Gmail for Facebook Mail’ by Jesus Diaz @ Gizmodo (12-Nov-2010)
- ‘Facebook Mail: Strengthening the Ties That Bind’ by Mathew Ingram, Gigaom (12-Nov-2010)
- ‘Could Facebook replace your e-mail inbox?’ by Pete Cashmore, CNN (11-Nov-2010)