Everyone was expecting Facebook to announce a new email service to compete with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and others. Facebook made a point to say they are not producing a Gmail killer, but if their new service kills email, well - that is okay. But they are 100% not launching a Gmail killer. ;-)
If you missed the news, you can read the announcement here. In short, Facebook wants to place all your methods of communication in a single thread. So if you text message your sister, then email, then Facebook her and so on - all that communication is stored in a single thread on Facebook.com.
Here is how Facebook put it:
Today I'm excited to announce the next evolution of Messages. You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, email or Messages. They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time. You shouldn't have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use. Simply choose their name and type a message. We are also providing an @facebook.com email address to every person on Facebook who wants one. Now people can share with friends over email, whether they're on Facebook or not. To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.
It is neat, but I saw a lot of feedback on Twitter as Facebook was announcing it. As some of you know, I really am not a fan of Facebook as a user. Maybe because I set it up wrong, but I personally barely use it. I know most people spend much of their day on Facebook, so I know how valuable it is.
Here is one Tweet, from Vanessa Fox, I want to highlight:
Don't most people mostly use email for business purposes? Do we really need that communication to be more personal and immediate?
But you really cannot deny the power in this. Unified messaging is nothing new. But Facebook has the power to make it work beyond everyone's wildest dreams.
What do you think?