One of the biggest reasons Facebook decided to launch an email system (aka Not-Mail) is that more than 4 billion emails are sent through Facebook every day. Mark Zuckerberg feels that they traditional system of email is anachronistic. On this issue he might be right. People are increasingly use mail rooted in their social network, ie. Facebook Messages, Twitter DM, Linkedin In Mail, text messages, mentions, wall postings are increasingly becoming primary sources for communication. Traditional email is becoming the way of the past. People are wanting their communications to be linked to one another and with higher functionality than type, send and read. People are moving towards a complete integration of their communication technology. This is why my calendar is linked to my other calendar which is linked to my Tungle.me which sends me emails that I get on both my computers and my phone. Though this seems complicated, when one is updated it is all updated. Ultimately this makes things easier because everything is interconnected and it doesn’t matter where or how I access it. Facebook is trying to do this without having 10 different applications and sites necessary to accomplish a high level of inter-connectivity.
There are a lot of questions about how the basic email function is going to work. Basically the essentials will be just like email. I type in your contact info, my subject and body and then send. You receive and respond back. This will not be that different.
The best change that will make conversation tracking much easier is that all your conversations with a person will be kept in a singular history. Currently the messages in Facebook do this for a singular conversation but does not for all communications between two people. The change will keep all conversations with one person in a singular history, and will do this for everyone in your contact list. This includes friends not on Facebook.
As Bos, the senior engineer at Facebook, said at the live announcement, he could track his entire relationship with his girlfriend through the email history.
What makes this so different from the standard Facebook messaging, outside of being able to email people who are not on Facebook, is that people can send you an email to an address and have it go to your Facebook message center. All users will be able to get an email@example.com email address. So whatever your name is on Facebook will be your email address, for instance mine would be LaurenMacEwen@facebook.com. This means that people can send you emails to your facebook email from any email client, and you can email them back.
Soon IMAP will also be supported, meaning you will be able to use your new @facebook.com email address on your mail client, taking Facebook mail completely off Facebook.
Read the overview of Facebooks “Not-Mail” messaging system here
Tomorrow I will talk about the cross-platform integration of Facebook messages, SMS, IM, and Facebook Chat.