By Chris Scott Barr
Over the last week or so, there has been some talk about Facebook launching a “Gmail killer” webmail feature. Various sites covered this and described how Facebook was looking to replace Gmail (and any other webmail client) with their new service. To be quite honest, I haven’t really cared, or given it a second thought until now. After all, since Facebook likes to half-ass things anyway (look at their new layout which has actually taken a step backwards by removing the option for a live feed, or their crappy instant messaging service), why would I want to rely on them for anything more than social networking? The only reason I’ve given it a second look is because of a new feature in Gmail called Buzz.
Feel free to watch the video above, as it’s going to point out some of the finer details of this new feature. Essentially what ‘Buzz’ does is allow you to post status updates, pictures, links and videos from within Gmail. Anyone who is on your friends list will see these updates on their Buzz wall. Sound familiar? It should, because that’s pretty much what Facebook boils down to. Sure, it has some nice features that you won’t find over on Facebook and appears to have the typical Google polish to it. Just don’t go removing your Facebook page right away, because Buzz is likely never going to replace it.
I’m typically a big fan of Google and most of the products that they develop, however this is one that I just don’t see going anywhere. There are two major points that will hold this back from becoming mainstream:
- Using Facebook does not require the person to switch their primary email address. Gmail will always be an email client first and a social networking platform second. Many people still cling to their old Hotmail and Yahoo addresses; if you try to offer them a social networking experience inside of another webmail provider, they will simply shrug it off and go back to Facebook.
- Farmville. Many people waste countless hours on this and other silly games inside of Facebook that are designed to do little more than kill time. (Brilliantly they also encourage you to harass your friends until they start playing as well, but that’s a conversation for a different day.) Google likes everything to be streamlined and efficient, which means these types of games will likely never be found inside of Gmail. Sadly, without these games no social networking service stands a chance against the mighty Facebook.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Facebook get some competition. They have a lot of room for improvement and this might actually give them a reason to sweat. I just find it ironic that both companies have chosen to invade the other’s territory at almost the same time. It will be very interesting to watch this play out.
[ Google ]