Update: Though everyone is quick to point out that Facebook Messages released 11/15 is "not email!", it is important to note that this is Email: Facebook Edition. We shouldn't expect Facebook to come out with a mill-runnin' email platform, considering that it is a social network (and if we are talkin like NFL players announcing their universities on Monday Night Football: THE social network). It makes sense that their push into the email realm is all mixed up with all things social. That said, the points below are still valid.
Facebook email dropped today; Zuckerberg steps with socks and sandals onto Google’s turf. And although Facebook email will likely dud out, it won’t be a complete waste of time for us: as a comparison of Facebook’s failure to ‘go email’ with Google’s failure to go social might indicate who is currently the top dog in Silicon Valley.
Although some tech-centric chicken littles are callin it a ‘gmail killer’ I’m unmoved by the additional feature. I feel like @facebook.com email will really only be utilized by the already Facebook fanatical. Think about it: this generation’s professional world won’t use it; privacy hounds’ll surely be like fuck that. Adults won’t be down unless they are awkwardly trying to be the cool Mom. The complacent half won’t convert. And the hipsters won’t sign up: they’re busy in a fritz trying to accessorize with earthlink.net email addresses.
So it’ll really just be those like my 13 year old cousin who go nuts for the thing. Which indicates that gmail can sleep well tonight knowing that it’s hard to make the argument that Gmail’s downfall will come by the mass emigration of Gleeks – not that there’s anything wrong with being a Gleek.
But even though Facebook email will likely never turn “Jack the Gmail Ripper” and strangle Google out of its orbit, we will still be able to find something meaningful in the failure of Facebook mail. Consider:
We’ve been trying to determine which of Google and Facebook has the leg up on the other. But in the tech world – an industry that moves faster than Aaron Sorkin dialogue – it has been mad hard.
Google Buzz could have helped us out with this; to prove its alpha-status Google came out with Google Buzz – the social component of the Google weaponry that was predicted to take Facebook down by the knees. A successful Google Buzz might have laid some cement in the hierarchy: “I’m Google, I do mail AND I can do social better than you, Mark.” But as we know, Buzz went downhill faster than Weeds after Season 2. So no help there.
So now, Facebook counterstrikes with a strategic attack on Gmail, one of Google’s main metropolitan areas (# attacking Google through Gmail is the equivalent of a U.S. enemy striking Chicago). As we talked about though, @facebook.com doesn’t have too many more strides in it than did Buzz and so will also fail to be the decider.
Which is why we will have to bring some creativity to the analysis of this dual hegemony. In thinking about Buzz vs. Facemail let’s not only talk about about relative success, but comparative failure.
The failure of Buzz to establish a stronghold in Facebook territory was flailing and loud. So if Facebook mail can kind of work, or fail quietly, or exist totally awkwardly but content without popularity, then maybe Facebook can come away looking like the fighter relatively more ready to claim the championship belt.
In the tech world, hegemonies might have to be graded on a curve.
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