Kevin Tea, over at Web 2 And More asked this question yesterday: Is Facebook about to launch a “gmail killer” today? Well, the Facebook announcement came, and the answer is… “sort of… maybe… maybe not”.
Facebook didn’t just come out with a new e-mail service, but a whole system of messaging that incorporates e-mail, instant messaging, chat, and SMS. Mark Zuckerberg was clear that this is not a “Gmail killer”, or indeed an “e-mail killer”. Rather it incorporates e-mail into the whole system. I don’t know, though – I’d bet it crossed his mind at least once that giving 500 million users the option of a facebook.com e-mail address might cut into Gmail’s market share a little!
Using a facebook.com e-mail address won’t be compulsory – apparently Project Titan, as the new system was codenamed, will route messages to you however you choose to connect. If you do want to use a facebook.com address, though, you’ll want to set up a human-readable username by visiting http://www.facebook.com/username/. If you have any pages, and if they have enough fans, you’ll be able to set up usernames for those too.
The new messaging system will be rolled out over the next few months, with users being invited to try it out at a more controlled rate than everyone jumping in at the same time. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes communication through Facebook, and whether it will change communication on a wider scale too. Watch this space…