Well, perhaps this is the reason Google’s been so uneasy lately. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is preparing to launch its own complete email service, which would directly compete with Google’s Gmail. Codenamed “Project Titan,” the email service is said to be more than just an extension of the site’s underused Messaging feature. On Nov. 15, Facebook will unveil the new service at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Or, at least that’s what its cryptic invitations hint at.
If true, this will mark a change for Facebook, which is used to operating in a closed environment. With email, the social network will have to allow people outside Facebook to contact people inside Facebook, and vice versa. Almost every feature of the network so far has been to get people onto the site and staying there. However, it could be a smart move. By adding email, users will have one more daily activity to do within the walls Mark Zuckerberg has built, even if they are speaking with those who haven’t yet drank the Kool-Aid. It is rumored that all users will get an @facebook.com email address.
A full email service from Facebook, if true, will make the recent contacts cat fight between it and Google all the more relevant. A week ago, the search giant changed its openness policies to exclude Facebook because the social network does not allow users to export their contacts and data out, essentially ‘trapping’ users within the site. Due to the policy change, users who sign up for Facebook can no longer find out which of their Gmail contacts are using the social network. The move sparked a public battle between the two giants, but this announcement may prove that Google had a good reason for its attack. Did Google pre-emptively attack the social network, knowing that it would soon be an email provider as well? If Facebook announces email, it will now be pressured to make the service more open.
Google, for its part, is rumored to be building a social network to compete directly with Facebook. And so the big battle wages on. Who will win? The company that wants to be social or the company that wants to make the world socialize with it?