Facebook was expected to launch a new email service this morning. What the company announced was much bigger than email. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced “a single social inbox” for every kind of communication that people use, whether online, from their mobile phones, email, SMS, instant messaging and Facebook chat messages. The company has built what he called a “modern messaging system” that is lightweight and easy to use, and offers a number of features that blend the usability of email and the benefits of other communications systems.
The 3 main features of the new service include:
- A seamless messaging system: Handles email, SMS and IM on a facebook.com email address.
- A single conversation history: Threaded replies add utility to email, so the new service will provide a combined conversation history, regardless of whether it comes via email, SMS, IM etc.
- A social in-box: The default experience is all really high-signal, relevant, personal messages, reducing spam.
This offering is targeted directly at the younger generation, the ones that can’t stand email because it is too “formal” and takes “too long”. Unfortunately, it reminds me a lot of Google’s Wave, the real-time collaboration tool that was designed to be a cross between IM, IRC chat and email. On August 4, 2010, Google announced the suspension of standalone Wave development, and Wave was rolled up into Gmail as an add-on.
A solution without a clear problem and an uncertain, somewhat fickle audience.