The BBC has a hysterical story in which they simultaneous predict that both hotmail, yahoo and gmail should be concerned about the possible rise of facebook mail. I don’t think Google need to be too concerned. The fact of the matter is that people are bonded to their e-mail account. I switched primary e-mail addresses over 3 years ago and I still have to log in to hotmail occasionally.
Changing e-mail address is simply a major hassle. Every other log in is linked to it, every news letter. You need to inform all your contacts you’ve switched, every company you’ve ever registered with in person, etc! So sure, facebook has a huge potential user base. But that’s not a user base which is just going to switch over instantly as one. Instead you have to offer something over your rivals, enough of an incentive to deal with all that hassle.
Gmail had a lot of these features when it started up: Huge inbox size (this was a feature at the time.. inboxs used to get full and e-mails would bounce!), good spam counter (I’ve received three spam messages in those three years. Reported them and I’m sure they never reached many others), keyboard shortcuts, free IMAP and POP3, free e-mail forward and a brilliant way to search through your e-mail. Even with all those features gmail is third in the e-mail war. So what’s facebook going to have over it that facebook doesn’t already provide? Are people that bothered about getting facebook features (event invites) directly as e-mails?
I’m not so sure, what do you think?
Edit: So in the morning when the announcement is made the BBC can completely rework the story. Of course it wasn’t facebook announcing an e-mail system but expanding the messaging system. Which does make sense since people already use this service. Sadly most of the Microsoft and Google are doooomed article is gone. Lesson learned for any aspiring bloggers: quote and print screen!