"This is not an email killer," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during the unveiling of the social networking giant's new Facebook Messages service Monday. But many tech commentators see Facebook's push to get users to consolidate their email, text messages, and instant messaging in Messages as a frontal assault on email — specifically on Gmail and its parent, Google. Is this Facebook's latest attack on its Silicon Valley neighbor? Could Facebook win? (Watch a Facebook Messages introduction)
Google is toast: Make no mistake, Facebook has just launched a "head-to-head battle with Google for dominance of the Internet," says David Kirkpatrick in The Daily Beast. While Messages will poach some current Gmail users, "what should really worry Google" is the unlikelihood that younger generations will ever need a Gmail account. Facebook is where "just about everyone under 18" currently lives on the web, and this will keep them there.
"Facebook's new battle with Google"
Facebook has some serious weaknesses: Until they get jobs, perhaps, says Adam Pash at Lifehacker. "Facebook was the second most commonly blocked site" in workplaces last year, after MySpace, and having all your communications in one place is little use if you can't access it for eight hours every day. Besides, Messages is only a slicker packaging of things Google already offers. Also, let's face it: Facebook doesn't have the best track record with privacy.
"Why you shouldn't switch your email to Facebook"
Ideally, neither company will win: The idea of letting Facebook control your entire online identity "is not just disturbing, but dangerous," says Dan Gillmor at Salon. But that's true of Google, too, or any other single company. Not only does it give Facebook, or some other corporate entity, immense power over you, it also means "you are giving it permission to start charging you for the privilege someday."
"Facebook's über-communications platform"