Facebook’s latest development, social messages, has started a great debate over it being a gmail or email killer. I have read a great number of articles, and discussions with varied inputs & thoughts. Facebook’s revamped message feature, is really innovative and definitely a game-changer in the social web platform. But I don’t think it’s going to sound the death knell for email as such.
The reason why Facebook has revamped its message feature is that, no one uses email to communicate in a social context. It is very true, I hardly use emails to talk to friends, and I am sure neither do they. It is really formal and rightly as Zuckerberg describes it to be a ‘cognitive load’. Why do we use email then? That is something to think about.
The formal email, is the requirement of business. It’s the only way, people can talk about work and keep a track of it. I foresee, its only going to be used for that in future. There are products available for collaboration which integrates chat and much more. That hasn’t ‘done in’ email, because email is useful & powerful. Whatever facebook does, is never going to change our way we communicate to our formal colleagues at work or how we do business, becuase being formal is a big part of doing business.
But we have to agree that in a social context, and in the days of connecting instantly, email is useless. We all know this already & so we don’t use it for those things. So what has facebook done, is just restate what we know already and come up with a new feature that tells us ‘we users need it’ and tells us to tell others ‘they need it’.
Facebook is made up of and made for people, who are inclined to stay in touch socially and importantly in an informal way. And it’s going to coming up with messages that will make it easier for us to communicate, give us an identity to the outside world(outside facebook) so they can reach us (@facebook.com account), and it’s going to reinvent email, by stripping subject, cc, bcc and all other things we don’t care about. So are these going to stop us have an email account? Maybe, yes.
If all other web sites we care about, can be tied to our facebook account and sends us updates & messages, we definitely have no need for an email id. The new message feature is definitely going to kill the informal email. So most definitely facebook will try to get us hooked, by working with the ‘other sites’ we care about so that we don’t need any mail account to access them. Thus it’s very clear that domination of user’s social life is their objective. That is a big cause of concern to ‘us’ the users. If you asked why, answer is so much power to facebook. Too much power is never too good (With great power comes great responsibility, responsibility and profit don’t go hand in hand atleast in the case of facebook). They know much more about you. And your life on facebook is never as enjoyable as it would have been, in some ways.
Also, it would cause a lot of concern to google. Gmail, their amazing product, if overtaken by facebook would result in a loss of social users. That would affect their advertising business, as no more they would get data of user’s habits, desires, music & movies we like etc etc.. atleast thru gmail. The mails we subscribe to, feeds we are eager to read about will never come thru the gmail account anymore. So they would never be getting more information about us. I sense a drop in Google’s share value, if they don’t do anything about it. But it is very unlikely that they will be going down without a fight, if they are going down that is.
They have to see that the end is near but they still have time, to come up with something better to retain the users loyalty towards Gmail.Probably it would be quicker for them to have a relook at Wave. Towards which I am pretty pissed of about since I didn’t even get a chance to experience it, it being a failure doesn’t comfort me. They can come up with so many new things, which will sadly take time. Definitely upgrading Gmail to be more social will be their number one priority. I really want them to do that, because I know I don’t want to move to a new @facebook.com identity, atleast for now. It’s cumbersome in many ways. But we have got to give a big hand to Mark Zuckerberg for forcing others to think, and only to satisfy our needs better. Something is going to happen in the social web platform, and things are only going to get better if not great for now.