How could we ignore the news coming out about Facebook these days. Earlier this week, Mashable reported that arguably the biggest social media channel of them all could be worth around $41 Billion. This means that in comparison, Facebook is valued higher that eBay, which is hovering at around $39 Billion. That is an incredible (and somewhat arbitrary) statistic to think about, especially when you consider where Facebook was just a number of years ago.
However, the biggest news about Facebook was the heating up of their battle against other online service providers, such as Yahoo! or Google. As Geoffrey Fowler and Amir Efrati reported in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has "unveiled a messaging service to compete for the loyalty of millions of Internet users". This new messaging system looks to build upon the large network already existing amongst the Facebook community by introducing many new communication tools, including a facebook.com email address for users. Facebook is looking to become a one-stop-shop for communications as the more "fun and more valuable" way of keeping in touch.
So is Facebook a 'Gmail Killer'?
In a word, no. In many words, it's not meant to replace the function of 'proper' e-mails systems like Gmail or Yahoo. Mark Zuckerberg admitted during the launch that they don't expect "anybody to wake up tomorrow and say 'OK, I will shut down my Yahoo or Gmail account and switch exclusively to Facebook,'". Fowler and Efrati point out that while Google and Facebook have different core businesses, they've been set onto a 'collision course' by trying to both secure supremacy over the online activity and user data market, a critical need for the 'future of targeted ads online, already a $26 Billion industry in the U.S." alone. Both Zuckerberg and Google CEO Eric Schmidt seem to agree that their products are close to each other, but not replacements for each other. The functionality of Facebooks messaging system is to put traditional e-mail, instant and SMS messaging together in one place, sending messages using whatever method works best. On the other hand, Google's Gmail is a great platform for receiving formal e-mail correspondence. Zuckerberg was quoted as saying "Gmail is a really good product", while Schmidt was quoted saying that it "is basically good to have more competition in the space," and that Facebook "appear[s] to be taking a different approach".
So can we take from this? Facebook is certainly on the way to trying to take a stranglehold on the way consumers interact with the internet. By putting all of these services together, it's hard to see how consumer's won't slowly shift to using Facebook for all of their casual conversations online. It might be too early to make any conclusions, but this seems to be a big step forward towards making Facebook a powerhouse in the targeted ad market as well.