Facebook is completely rewriting their messaging product and is preparing to launch a fully featured webmail product in its place, according to a source with knowledge of the product. Internally it’s known as Project Titan. Or, unofficially and perhaps over-enthusiastically, the Gmail killer.
Facebook messaging has been the bane of users’ existence for years. My first public gripe was in 2008, when I said that urgent changes were needed. The biggest problem is simply deleting old emails. It takes so long that I have thousands of unread and read but not deleted messages in my inbox.
But Facebook messaging is also only indirectly linked to the email, which is still the standard way that people exchange digital messages when not on Facebook.
Facebook has occasionally dabbled with improvements to messaging, like adding the ability to search messages. But for the most part it has remained static. And not very useful.
Even MySpace moved away from their aging messaging platform to a true webmail service in 2008 (albeit one that lacked POP or IMAP support).
But now Facebook is getting itself back in the game. And if the details we’ve heard are accurate, Project Titan, or whatever it’s called when it launches, may be the kind of product people flock to.
First, our understanding is that there will be full POP/IMAP support, meaning users can access the account other than through Facebook itself. Your email account name will be your vanity url – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email is all about identity. And Facebook is ahead of everyone else in the identity game via Facebook Connect. Facebook says more than 60 million people log in to 80,000 third party websites each month via Facebook Connect.
Tacking a real webmail product on top of those vanity URLs and Facebook connect is something even Google may shudder at. Gmail killer? I don’t think so. But a strong product move nonetheless.