Mark Zuckerberg has another announcement up his sleeve today, and while we were disappointed with the ‘Mobile Event’ turning into a mobile-developer-fest and not a Facebook Phone, speculation all across the internet is pointing to something just as exciting, and perhaps just as foolhardy – a Facebook-made competitor for Gmail codenamed Project Titan.
Since Gmail started out in 2004 as an invitation-only release, it quickly made its mark on the global populace, and shortly after its public release in 2007, it began eating into the shares of major free email service providers, such as Yahoo and Hotmail, and quite literally forced them to up their game or get left behind. Today, it is surely one of the most used email service providers in the world, and a force to be reckoned with when one considers its place in Google’s web service ecology (estimated usage numbers are 360 million users for Hotmail, 270 million Yahoo Mail, and Gmail 190 million).
Facebook’s past is no less illustrious, and currently has in excess of 500 million registered users. There is no question then that Google and Facebook are two of the biggest internet giants in the world today, and realistically, it is inevitable the two would clash on a regular basis, poaching talent, locked in stalemates, and generally trying their level best to out-manoeuvre each other.
News of Facebook’s Project Titan first surfaced back in February, and apparently, it is referred to internally at Facebook as the “Gmail killer” – quite a claim, but then again, considering the ecology it would be fitting into, there is a reasonable chance the project will be successful – though there is not a hope in hell in will actually “kill” Gmail. It would need to be much more than a Titan to pull that off.
Let’s think about it… what’s the need for a connected email service when one can already message one’s friends and contacts, create community/event pages, share photos and videos, and much more. There will certainly be adopters, but not on the scale or breadth of use that would threaten Gmail. Look back at Google's attempt mixing mail with social networking - Buzz, and how that worked out. Facebook has some advantages though, with a massive established base of users, and, a lot of data and analysis regarding usage behaviour, and might just be able to combine many types of content in a cohesive interface, and maybe even arrange it in a social context.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]Facebook will definitely need something exceptional, something ultra-connected, to attract users away from Gmail or other service providers, and like always, there’s the chance that even that stand-out feature will only appeal to a few social networking fiends, if not all. Market research, if done only in the U.S., will also mean next to nothing, because even if everyone in the country had one Facebook account, their numbers would still fall way short of the “more than 500 million users” that the social networking site currently boasts of.
So far, Facebook sources have been cited to reveal the existence of the Gmail killer, and, the upcoming @facebook.com email addresses. All this points to something much more than just a refresh of Facebook's current messaging service, rather, to a proper email service, and, Facebook’s recent game of cat and mouse with Google over contact information only further fuels the rumour fires.
Let’s just hope that if Facebook is indeed launching such a product, it doesn’t make any of the privacy blunders Google made with Buzz, and currently skates around with Gmail.
Stay tuned to thinkdigit.com/latest/Facebook.html to see just how murderous Facebook really is....