A Few Years From Now, It’ll Just Be Facebook

Facebook's Dominance

Facebook's DominanceA lot of people I know, less tech savvy relatives and friends especially, have Gmail or Yahoo email addresses they don’t really use. Well, except to sign into Facebook.

Roughly half of these people are in Zimbabwe, and the other half in the Diaspora. The common denominator with all these friends and relatives is this; almost all of them created their first email address in the last 3 years. And the reason they created it was so they could sign up for a Facebook account. They didn’t need email, they needed a social network. Essentially, Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, is just a gateway to Facebook and not the service they want.

Today, Facebook will announce a significant milestone in its bid to take over communication and social interaction on the Internet. There has been speculation about what the actual announcement is but indications are that Facebook will release an advanced email service to compete with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail.


If this is true (which it most likely is), the need for an external gateway to Facebook that my friends and relatives currently have to put up with will vanish. Facebook will be your email and social identity in one. How convenient! And remember, there’s a formidable Bing-powered search engine doing web searches on Facebook currently. Facebook will be the total Internet solution so to speak.

Your internet home will be Facebook, and going forward there will be less and less need for you to leave Facebook for another web service.

Remember 2005? A big number of people who started using the Internet around that time didn’t even know what AltaVista was. They didn’t need to. Google could do everything they wanted to do on the Internet.

Today, people are getting introduced to the internet on Facebook. They only use Google (or Yahoo, or Hotmail) services to create an email address which they never really use beyond signing into Facebook. They can make all the communication they need with friends and family on Facebook. They can search the web on Facebook.

A few years from now, Google will slowly become the AltaVista of the Internet. It’s headed that way, unless Google disrupts it aggressively.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, Zimbabwe’s Internet penetration rate in June this year was 12.2%. This means the bulk of Zimbabweans are yet to get access to the Internet. Going forward, it’s not hard to imagine when these unconnected Zimbos get connected, Facebook is all they’ll know.

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32 thoughts on “A Few Years From Now, It’ll Just Be Facebook

  1. Skype 5.0 now has a Facebook tab, so you’re able to directly edit your status and view your friends’ news feed.

    No thanks.

  2. I think Google will be hard to take down. It has so many great features that Facebook would need to replicate to compete. I now read my company email via Gmail. When I write email I have option of sending from my Gmail account or my work address from within Gmail. Being in Sales I have uploaded my Quotation Template to Google Docs so I have it wherever I am and can quickly send them out on the go. BUT then Facebook has Mafia Wars!

  3. Lets wait and see but my money is on GMail, Facebook is primarily a social network. Making them handle your business emails well there is the issue of security. GMail has more sophisticated and established anti spam stuctures, so for now Gmail is the clear winner

  4. On spam, Facebook is actually the clear winner. Facebook knows who your real friends are and therefore which emails to prioritise. While Gmail’s spam is great and the priority inbox tries at prioritising email, Gmail doesn’t have any data on your social sphere.

  5. Yah, i actually have started developing facebook applications instead of developing stand alone php applications. Very soon i will release it!

  6. Why are we assuming that there will be this convergence anyway, between Facebook and our email?

    I see the two as seperate and unequal parts of life – Facebook is for fun, interaction, “hanging out” with friends without having to hang out with them.

    Gmail is serious, comms, work, business, reaching out to contacts, work etc blah blah.

    I don’t see a future where these two worlds have converged so much that a Facebook friend gets prioritised in my email sorting. The people whose email I prioritise are generally not Facebook contacts, and vice versa.

    So to be clear, FB doesn’t have the tools to handle my work, and Google doesn’t have the social tools to handle my network. That kind of seperation is healthy, because you know what they say, eggs, basket, etc.

    Also, if FB are going to become my primary mail provider, they’d have to get much more “serious”. I’m talking about sharing, privacy, data retention as well. Also, our companies themselves would have to drive that convergence, by seeing FB more as a tool for comms and collaboration, and less as a threat to organisational integrity and a hogger of company resources.

    I realise I had more to say on this than I thought. Basically, FB can keep to themselves cos they ain’t getting their hands on my e-mail. They already have all my photos and friends and likes etc!

  7. Hard to say since upto Titan’s announcement is still all speculation. But I’d imagine FB wouldn’t converge your email and your social network as such, They’d just provide an additional service. An Email service. And if you trust, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and AOL with your email….why not.
    As far as I see, the only edge they’l have over Gmail and the rest is the wealth of information they already have about you which will definitely make it a more convenient tool to use. Hey, let’s wait and see.

  8. Okay, I hear you. But one question. Given FB’s problems, recent and historical, would you trust THEM with your emails?

    I understand I’ve opened up to FB at an unprecedented level, so can’t compare the trust I have in them (LIMITED at best) with the trust I have in Gmail, cos I’ve never shared just as much in volumes of information as I have with FB.

    But I have trusted Gmail with my mail, my business docs etc, and they have NEVER sold on / shared my information with another company, and with people I haven’t approved.

    Facebook has. That’s a deal-breaker for me. I think the issue here would be credibility.

  9. Interesting, you compare altavista to google. Google is just more than a search engine or media company. Google is a new digital way of life powered by the smartest brains on planet earth. Please Check the following links to see where google is going.Facebook is on honeymoon, its a passing phase like yahoo.

  10. i agree with you Facebook still has too great a social aura, that for it to be accepted for more serious stuff will take a bit of time and effort. and then there was the time it went down a month or so ago. but anyway lets wait and see

  11. It’s a deal-breaker for techies, Joe. The typical Facebook user doesn’t care. All they want is convenience.

    Would i trust them with my email? NO. I don’t trust Facebook with my photos and status updates as it is. Not because Facebook is not secure, but because they make it so easy for my Facebook friends to choose not to be secure.

    My personal decision won’t stop my brother, my sister, my inlaws, my neighbours, everybody else, from migrating to their service once they see the convenience.

  12. Lets face it…Facebook has got a great chance of taking over but it’l take time. Yes of coz as Google loyalists would want to argue but the fact is Facebook has enough potential to sink this Google ship.
    Imagine having over 500 million email boxes from facebook as soon as they Launch that project Titan… the so called Gmail Killer. This will obviously put a dent in google.
    Now we all knw that most internet searches are basing seaches on on the facebook like button in a way moving away from the google website optimization strategy that requires you to twitch your site to be in line with the Google search algorithm..
    If Facebook manage to create a great search functionality better than the Bing they are using the Google are definately in big trouble…..
    Larry and Sergey ….. You better add Mark to you Friends list and work out some way of working together instead of blocking gmail imports and stuff…..!!!!! It u are not careful… your popularity will soon become like that of Microsoft…. Im just sayin…..

  13. Ash, I think I am just like you. I am not comfortable with the issue of Facebook handling my business issues. May be I will end up being like guys who are still on Hotmail.

  14. And another thing – I will NOT be sending business emails to any email accounts, no chance. Maybe it’s still just a perception issue, but FB’s privacy cock-ups are manifold.

    No chance.

  15. By not too long ago I presume you mean prior to about 2003-4. Back then the internet was still modest and people had very little understanding of the internet. So I think that looking as far back as when those sites were popular is almost meaningless. They never got as a strong foothold as Google has. Facebook is popular, ofcourse and no doubt they can launch a webmail service that will become popular. However they just dont have the capacity to expand like Google has.

  16. but you see, Gmail didn’t re-invent the wheel, it just made the wheel spin faster. FB is acting like it’s just SO MUCH HARDER to contact my friends and relatives, that I need more.

    Ugh. I hate when Facebook introduces a new feature, because it sets every account, by default, to enable that feature with the lowest amount of privacy.

    So, just a reminder guys: when you get this feature, it will probably allow anyone and everyone to contact you.

    And watch out for the CNN/BBC headlines with the following keywords: Facebook, again, privacy, scandal, policy, default.

  17. Privacy – I wonder why everyone is so up tight with privacy issues. Google earth and Google maps took away all our privacy. If one types their names on google it is easy to see most of their personal details, pictures etc. Is that not lose of privacy? My hypothesis regarding privacy is that it will not be an issues in the next 5 to 10 years. No one will really care about anyones personal life. People will be confident enough to mention their private life. Obama managed to open up his private life in his books and no one tried using his past against him during the election (the fact that he did drugs) coz he wrote about it. Bill Clinton forgot to mention that he smoked in college and it became an issue in 1992 election. George Bush forgot to mention he got a DUI before and it nearly cost him the election. The point here is once you let people know about you personal failures or achievements (which I think every one is happy to mention) there will be no cases of privacy issues. The internet is becoming open and it will not make sense if people hallabalu about privacy when we are already on an open platform. If you want to exist in a vacuum then keep you privacy!

    Facebook and Google
    “ its core Google believes that at the end of this globalisation process the world will be centered on computers, and computers will be doing everything. That is propably one of the reasons Google has missed the boat on social neworking phenomenon…The Google model is that information, organising the worlds information, is most important thing.” “The Facebook model is radically different. One of the things that is critical about good globalisation in my mind is that in some sense humans maintain mastery over technology, rather than the other way around. The value of the company economically, politically, culturally -whatever-stems from the idea that people are the most important thing. Helping the world’s people self organise is the most important thing,” Thiel

    “In a rare public admission, a Google product manager conceded to journalists ….for many types of searches,users find information more trustworthy if it comes from friends, and that Facebook can potentially help users achieve that level of trustworthiness better.” Kirkpatrick

    “ of the top challenges his company faces is figuring out how to search, index and present social media content like that created in Facebook. He called his issue “the great challenge of this age”.” words said by Google CEO Schmidt 2009.

    Now Facebook partnered with Bing! Is that not some great competition now! Dudes its up to you guys to predict the future.

    Imagine how these social networks have taken over the web. Look at Tencent in China controlling a huge virtual currency market which lead to the government intervening. I predict we will be having a Social Networking Bank soon! Business models have been disrupted and are now based on building communities and products around communities. Watch the space!

  18. The “privacy” issue you don’t seem to get is simple. We have “hang-ups” about privacy because:

    – any information that comes up in a search is usually information that is either PUBLIC DOMAIN (i.e. news, articles, govt records, courts etc) or PUBLIC (i.e. info we have put on the internet, photos, biographical information open to search engines etc). It’s rare to Google someone and info about them comes up which they haven’t submitted themselves or isn’t public record

    – private information is stuff I may put on the net, but with an expectation or guarantee of PRIVACY (i.e. my phone number in a private FB profile, my email add which is supposed to be hidden on a forum, etc). Stuff for which I have an expectation of privacy, and which I don’t want to publicly searchable, or sharable with third parties.

    Facebook’s issues came about with exposing private information to, initially, third parties, and then making private information potentially searchable to the public.

    Those are the issues at hand. It’s not a hang-up, it’s basic – I have stuff I don’t mind people knowing. I also have stuff I only want a few people knowing (e.g. a group of friends on FB who have my mobile). Then I have stuff, e.g. an email, that I want only one person to see, you the recipient.

    Online provacy is possibly THE most important issue of our time – who owns our information, who can use our information, how long can someone keep our information, whether our information (voluntarily provided) is DELETABLE and whether we lose all rights to our information once we have uploaded it somewhere.

  19. Facebook will initially make use of Microsoft’s web apps such as office and bing but as it gets deeper,Microsoft is going to feel the threat and pull out. Facebook requires a lot of resources to be ahead in this game. Remember google is yet to respond to social networking. Count out Orkut because they have already said they are re-booting the whole social networking. Facebook’s growth is very much threatened by privacy and upcoming new laws on privacy in Europe, Asia and the USA. Its future is uncertain, its potential is huge though.

  20. The mere fact that FB started as a social networking site will mean that it will take sometime for it to dislodge Gmail! Would I really want to change my Gmail account of 6years for the sake of having a Facebook account? NO. Will I take a person applying for a post using a Facebook account? NO. Will I really consider FB to take care of my files and organisation emails…the answer is a big NO! So yes it might be popular in social circles but for serious professional guys, it wont , so the best they can do is to take away some few socialites from Gmail which to me will just be a minor dent!

  21. Google is eons behind as far as social networking is concerned..ever heard of Google flops?remember that not-so-good-looking google phone..that was a terrible attempt.they are better off doing mail,search,maps n stuff..u rily think they can beat facebook at their game?..col them n give them your “brilliant idea”.

  22. When we had Google as the webuzz the sensitive ones screamed “Security”.now facebook is taking the beating.but seriously, joe how many business people use email for sensitive info and confidential transactions?i know there is a lot of hoot on tech sites about facebook being so insecure.i dont think so!ever heard them talk about twitter,linkedin security?do u think harvard grads would leave your mail open to a Google search?cmon i heard they are smarter than that, so is Mark! im using service as soon as its launched,then the rest of the half-a-billion will follow..

  23. In my opinion, facebook will dominate even google. Last year traffic to facebook overtook traffic to all major google sites combined including google search, you tube and gmail. Advertising with facebook is much cheaper and more effective than google’s adwords. To cap it all, google even confessed that facenook is the only competitor they fear on the internet. Google wont go away, but facebook will just dominate

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