Move over email, Facebook’s social inbox is here

Putting to rest rumors about its plans to assassinate the legendary ‘Email’,  Facebook instead heralded the email’s natural death with an announcement last evening of a more sophisticated messaging system allowing users to choose “however they want to share”.

So, what’s new about the Facebook messaging system?

  1. It’s NOT email – it is ‘texts, chat, email together in one simple conversation’. A post on the Facebook blog shared – ‘You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, email or Messages. They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time.  You shouldn’t have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use.  Simply choose their name and type a message.’ The feature is modeled on a chat than an email and takes away all the formal/tedious bits of the email (subject line, cc, bcc)
  2. Say hello your @facebook.com email address – every user of Facebook will get a @facebook.com id and users will be able to share with friends who are not on Facebook as well
  3. All messages in one single location – all forms of communication through sms, texts, email, messages will get aggregated in one single location
  4. You will know what you did last summer - With the feature of recording ‘conversation history’, you will see everything that you have ever discussed with a friend as a single conversation
  5. Choose who you want to engage with – messages from unknown senders and bulk messages automatically go into a folder called ‘Other’ and only messages from friends will show up in the inbox. The new messages thus tries to circumspect the challenge of unwanted messages and spam which is a big irritant over traditional email and phone

In the past few years, we have seen the move from email to chat messengers as far as our personal interactions are concerned. The need for faster, shorter, easier and real-time mediums of communication has been eminent in the growing adoption of chat and popularity of tools as Twitter.

Therefore , email as a means of personal communication, as we knew it in the past, is already becoming obsolete. The Facebook announcement in this context hardly comes as a surprise.

Will Facebook’s new social inbox be the end of email? Interestingly, my colleague Rajesh Lalwani, in a post last month, about the future of Facebook ‘email‘ had shared 2 thoughts: that Facebook’s core is more open conversations and that any offering from Facebook would likely be revolutionary than evolutionary. The new Facebook messaging system seems to be just that.

It will be interesting to see in the next few years how the above patterns get replicated in an enterprise environment.

Facebook has become the hub of personal conversations. Will it also become the hub for business conversations? Will Facebook be able to surmount the growing privacy concerns? Would you trust to put all all your private data in one single third party location? Thoughts?