Email is too slow and formal and will eventually follow the letter into extinction, says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The youthful billionaire made the claims as he launched the social networking site's new messaging service, which integrates all web and text-based communications and works instantaneously. The service, perceived as a direct rival to Google's Gmail, marks a new front in the ongoing and increasingly bitter battle between Facebook and Google to gain the loyalty of users.
Domination: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talks about the new messaging service rumoured to be a 'Gmail-killer' Zuckerberg revealed that, just as was rumoured, the 500million people signed up to Facebook will have access to a ‘Facebook.com’ email address. Entire conversation histories going back years will also be saved into users’ accounts and Spam will be completely filtered out, he claimed.
'We don’t think that a modern messaging system is going to be email,'Zuckerberg said at a press conference in San Francisco. 'We want people to be able to communicate in whatever way they choose: email, text or Facebook message.' At the moment Facebook users are able to contact one another by either posting on each other's wall or by Facebook's own internal messaging service.
Battling Google: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured earlier this year, has launched a new messaging service which could rival Google's Gmail
Texts, email or instant messages will all come into one ‘feed’ and users can respond in any way they want.
One person could text a friend, for example, who will see the message come up on their Facebook page instantly and respond via an instant message or email.
Zuckerberg said that he was changing Facebook because young people found email was too much of a ‘cognitive load’. He said of the new programme: ‘It’s not email. It handles email... along with all the different ways you want to communicate. 'It’s true people are going to be able to have Facebook.com email addresses but this is not email. Email is one way people are going to use this system, but we don’t even think it’s going to be primary way that people use this system.
‘The goal of this product is to make it that we can seamlessly integrate across all of these different products very easily.’ He added that he did not think there would be an overnight e-mail exodus but that young people have ‘suddenly shifted towards real-time communications’ and he had to respond.
Commenting on the launch on Monday, Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum, said: 'An email service from Facebook makes a lot of sense.'It has a huge base of 500 million users that already love to communicate and share, and Facebook is giving them richer ways to do this through virtual gifts, games, location and even voice thanks to the recent integration deal with Skype.
'Adding email to the mix is a logical step and Facebook could tap into user data to provide an attractive, highly personalised service. You would also expect it to push mobile features given its big move in this direction. '
Facebook’s director of engineering Andrew Bosworth said that over the course of time, users could look back on their relationships with friends going back years in a modern-day version of keeping letters in a box.
The third feature will be the ‘Social Inbox’ which will split the user’s email inbox up into three categories: Friends, general email and junk.
Only emails from the people you request will come through your friends inbox leaving you to dip into the other email whenever you wanted. The move will certainly alarm Facebook's nearest rivals such as Yahoo and Google.
In recent months the relationship between Facebook and Google has become increasingly fraught amid the poaching of staff and efforts to throw up barricades to prevent users from easily shifting information, such as email contact lists, between the two platforms.
The changes to Facebook have been under development for more than a year and will be rolled out over the forthcoming months on an invite-only basis before going worldwide. Last week, Google began blocking a Facebook feature that allows users to automatically import Gmail contact data into the social networking service. Google accused Facebook of siphoning up Google data without allowing for the automatic import and export of Facebook users' information.
They are also increasingly vying for engineering talent in Silicon Valley. This week, Google internally announced plans to boost salaries by 10 per cent, according to media reports, in a move viewed as an effort to staunch an exodus of engineers and managers to Facebook.
Google has banned Facebook from importing its users' e-mail contacts, a move it says it made because Facebook refused to allow the export of contact and friend data from within user profiles.
A new style of messaging: Mark Zuckerberg unveils Facebook's newest feature in San Francisco
People can also send short replies directly from the inbox page, without having to click on a message first. The new design displays thumbnails of recent photo attachments at a glance, and lets people toggle between several open e-mails at a time.
SHOOT: Insta-email. I like it. Spamless, even better.