According to various reports, the new service assigns an email address to each Facebook user which provides a consolidated look at all of a user’s email, Facebook messages and SMS and chat as well. The service can sort incoming messages into three groupings—all messages, full conversation history (regardless of medium) and messages you want. Inside the inbox messages are sorted into “Messages” i.e. the good stuff, “Others” or the things you might get to and “Junk” where offers for cheap Viagra, timeshares and letters from foreign widows with millions of dollars to launder and bad spelling will be shunted.
This may represent the social media market’s saturation, a kind of shark jumping, because it breaks no new ground, adds no new media or communication channels. It simply consolidates digital/social communication and perhaps makes using it a bit faster. Previously, if I received a new message on Facebook I would get an email. I hope that doesn’t change because I don’t live on the service and I need another email address like I need another credit card whose offers fill up my snail mailbox.
Mike Isaac covered the announcement for Forbes. Isaac’s blog post describes Zuckerberg as follows:
“Whenever I get the chance to talk to high schoolers, I always ask them what they’re using” to communicate with one another. But it was the type of messaging they weren’t using that caught Zuckerberg’s attention.
“‘We don’t really use email. It’s too slow,’ they told me.” Zuckerberg found the statement “completely boggling.”
But most of us aren’t in high school and Zuckerberg’s attempt at high school relevance does nothing to help me see how this innovation can be germane to the business world. As another form of email it is at best redundant and some of its deletions or “improvements” over email, such as not having a standard subject line, make me wonder how applicable it will be in a broader context. I know there are several levels of sort within the messages folder but I worry that something might be incorrectly sorted like an order or an order cancellation. Then how do you find it?
If I take my curmudgeon hat off for a moment, it’s just possible that this innovation in social media is simply a new solution looking for a problem to solve. That happens all the time. The early adopters, in this case kids, take it on and in a year or two you have something that hundreds of millions of people can make use of. Facebook and Zuckerberg have proven adept at this so it’s likely prudent to reserve judgment.