For the previous few days, the web was a-buzz with chatter about the news that Facebook is developing a full-blown webmail product to replace its current messaging system.
Today the web was literally “buzzing” with the announcement and launch of Google Buzz, a social networking product integrated into Gmail. If you missed the announcement, check out this short video.
Will Facemail (or whatever it will be called) be a Gmail killer?
Will Google Buzz be a Facebook or Twitter killer?
Here’s my take…
Facemail vs Gmail
Facebook is going to try to leverage its position as the dominant social networking site to horn its way into the email arena.
Currently, if I’m on Facebook and I see an update from one of my friends and want to send them a quick message, I’ll do it through the FB messaging system rather than click over to Gmail. There are quite a few friends who I’ve connected with on Facebook, whose email addresses I don’t even have. So the only way I can send them a message is through FB.
Once Facemail goes live, hundreds of millions of people just like me will all of the sudden have a Facemail account and already be using it. Lots of them will start to ask themselves, “Why do I need 2 email accounts?” And they’ll consider dropping their other account, this will be especially true for users of Hotmail and YahooMail. Maybe even Gmail.
Whether people drop their current email account will come down to convenience vs functionality. Facemail will be more convenient. Will it come close rivaling Gmail’s disk space, search, spam filtering and other features?
Google Buzz vs Facebook
I watched the Google Buzz announcement this afternoon and was really impressed. The integration with Gmail is good. The viewing of pics and vids appears better than any of its rivals. When they did a status update via mobile phone using voice recognition and then geotagged it to a layer of Google Maps my jaw almost hit the floor.
In many ways Google Buzz is probably better than both Facebook and Twitter.
But the real question is… Is Google Buzz good enough to cause people to want to start using another social network in addition to or instead of the social networks they’re already using?
Here are 2 images that speak volumes.
First, this is a screenshot of what I saw when I first checked out Google Buzz.
One of the big features Google hyped in their announcement today was auto-following. Buzz figures which other Gmail users I interact with most and then automatically sets me up to follow them. Well, initially I’m only following 3 people and nobody is following me. Not exactly a party here.
Second, here’s a chart of email client market share.
As you can see Gmail only has less than 6% of the market.
What’s more, if you want to move to a new email provider it’s easy. You just do it. But if you want to move to a new social network, you have to get your friends to move as well
So, on the one hand you’ve got Facebook leveraging it’s 70% of the social networking market share to get people to make an easy switch to their email. Seems likely they will have success there.
On the other hand you’ve got Google trying to leverage it’s 6% of the email market share to get people to make a difficult switch to their social network. That seems like a tougher sell to me.
What impact do you think Facemail will have on the Gmail and the email market?
What impact do you think Google Buzz will have on Facebook and the social networking market?
Will you use either?