Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Facebook Mail Can Kill Gmail and Everyone Else

By Ray Nicolini

Why Facebook Mail Can Kill Gmail and Everyone Else

Get ready for a new invasion wave from Facebook: Mail. According to Techcrunch's sources, a full webmail client integrated with The One and Only Social Network will debut next Monday. If I were Google, Yahoo or Hotmail, I'd be very nervous.
Facebook Mail could be a killer, not only because of its potential instant size, but because of its natural advantage at making mail more useful.

Size matters

Facebook has 500 million active users. Gmail is estimated at 170 million registered users, while Yahoo has 303 million and Hotmail is still king of the hill at 364 million. Of course, not every Facebook user will jump on its mail bandwagon, but chances are that a huge percentage of the user base will. In fact, it's not a crazy assumption that almost everyone will, even if that means having yet another mail account added to your computer, phone or tablet.
First, because Facebook users are already used to their internal messaging system. For many, this could just be a convenient upgrade that will let them add these messages to their mail boxes. Remember that Facebook's mail is rumored to have external mail client access as well as its dedicated webmail interface.
But, most importantly, Facebook's users would probably jump in because the social nature of Facebook fits perfectly with the social nature of mail. The irony here is that their mail system could be a raging success because of what many people criticize: Facebook tracks all your moves.

Their not-so-secret weapon

Since Facebook knows how you interact with all your contacts, they would be able to perfectly separate what is important from what is not. Having used Gmail's Priority Box for a while, I've the feeling that Facebook could do a much better work at that using all their data and some clever, but not overly complicated logic.
But it's not only about separating what is important and what is not. Their tracking data could allow them to do other things, like prioritizing mail from the woman who just became your fiance or lowering the priority of that ex who keeps mailing you. They can also let you enable easy filtering options to automatically prioritize your mail and file into separate boxes.
Ultimately, that's what people like about Facebook. It's always prioritized communication, this closed playground where only your friends and contacts get to interact with you. If they can provide a mail system that will allow the controlled entry of external people while keeping the playground fun, clean, and safe, they have a winner. [TechCrunch]
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