Facebook e-mail

The battle is on to gain control over all your communication touch points. All. As rumors floats that Microsoft is buying Skype for an alleged $8billion, the rock-star of social media – Facebook – quietly switched on its email services (I am not sure if this was available earlier too but I noticed it today when I was about to message a friend. So if I am late to this party, my apologies in advance)

 How it works

  1. You get a name@facebook.com e-mail ID. The “name” is the same vanity URL name that you had chosen once when Facebook allowed you to
  2. The “Message” section on the left hand menu becomes your Message center. It integrates messages, texts and chat sessions and displays them in a conversation threaded manner
  3. The e-mail address brings in other mail clients to your Facebook account – in a way. So now you can send a mail to your Facebook buddy from Outlook and Gmail even if you do not have a Facebook account (and know that your buddy is a Facebook junkie)
  4. The service tries to integrate all your communication touch points, including your mobile phone. The service is available in India and pre-configured for some carriers, such as Aircel. For others – like Airtel – one has to send a txt message to a designated number to get a confirmation code and then set the service up (The thing did not work for me. I am awaiting my confirmation code still). I believe once this is up, you will be able to send messages to and from your phone to your Facebook friends (even if you do not have their phone numbers). This is particularly helpful and in the direction where phone numbers shall merge with other social identifiers that are more permanent in nature

For one, Facebook chose to keep the messaging application within their ecosystem and not spin it off as a separate web interface. By doing that it retains the user experience of the platform, but it does not stay faithful as a true-blue e-mail system given the potential of interruption (and distraction) from stuff happening on your timeline. Facebook e-mail will be less about e-mail than it will be a casual messaging platform

Gmail, in 2004, was a revolutionary step for e-mail clients. Unlimited storage (Facebook is silent about storage space), threaded conversations, google-search on emails, integrated GTalk , Labs – it truly changed asynchronous communication. Compared to that Facebook e-mail is merely evolutionary. All it strives is to give its users a Facebook Identity, which they hope will become calling cards of people in all forms of social interactions

The next round of upping the game will happen in VoIP, as social networks rush to control voice communication touch points. It would have surprised me less if Facebook had aggressively pursued Skype instead of Microsoft. This area promises to see a fair amount of action in the months to come

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