Cloud Computing: Facebook Messages Attempts to Outflank Gmail, Yahoo Mail
When word of Facebook's new e-mail product, code-named Project Titan, broke Nov. 12, the assumption was that the social network was building some sort of super Webmail product geared to kill Google's Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Hotmail. But releasing such "killer" products has not been Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's MO. Rather, he and his team have set forth to augment Facebook with software services that are germane to the network. Everything lives within the context of the walled garden, whose access to the outside world extends to third-party Websites only through carefully federated API connections. Facebook Messages is the messaging product, but rather than running as a stand-alone offering, the service streamlines users' direct messages, SMS texting, e-mail and chat. Users who receive an invite to the beta will receive @fb.com addresses. Messages lacks the subject lines, carbon copies and blind carbon copies of regular e-mail service, but it provides a great deal more messaging efficiency to the social network, whose 500 million-plus users may be tired of fragmented communications. "We don't expect anybody to wake up tomorrow and say, 'OK, I will shut down my Yahoo or Gmail account and switch exclusively to Facebook,'" Zuckerberg said at the launch. Perhaps not so soon, but it is his belief that people will want to move all of their online communication to Facebook where it makes sense. Expect calls via Facebook, similar to what Google did in Gmail with Google Voice. Facebook could use Skype for video calling. The possibilities are many. Meanwhile, here is a brief overview of the launch and the Messages setup.