This morning, on my Facebook news feed, I saw the following message regarding Facebook's new Messages:
The new system combines your messages, texts and chats in one place so you don't have to try to remember how you communicated with your contacts in order to find what you're looking for. But it also does one other important thing - something that's a salvo at Google's Gmail: users are given the opportunity to get a Facebook email account.
Why would you want a Facebook email? According to Facebook:
There are many benefits to claiming your Facebook email address:
- It’s free and easy to set up.
- Having your email integrated with your messages, chats and texts makes it easier to check them all at once. And if you’re looking for a message later, you don’t have to worry about how it was sent since all your different types of messages are in one place.
- Your Facebook messages are compatible with traditional email systems (e.g., Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail). When people send you emails from these external systems, they’re delivered directly to your Facebook Messages. And when you send messages to external email addresses, they’re formatted to look like your messages on Facebook, including your name and profile picture along with your message.
- Owning your @facebook.com address makes it easier for friends and family who are not on Facebook yet to connect with you.
- Your other email addresses may change over time, but your Facebook email never does.
Personally, I"m a committed Gmail user, since my Google account integrates with many other platforms (such as Blogger, which this blog is written on), among others. I don't know if I'll give this a try or not.
But a little bit behind what's driving Facebook's decision to expand in this area. The New York Times discusses the decline of email in Gen Y, citing that the younger generation simply doesn't use email as much as they use IM and texting.
In November, Facebook announced the evolution of its messaging system and in a Fast Company article, Zuckerberg noted his inspiration for deciding on the software that would shape the communications style of whole generations:
"Whenever I get a chance to talk to high schoolers, I always want to ask them what kind of software they're using... So I asked them: What do you use for email? [And they answered,] 'Some of us use Gmail. Some of us use Yahoo. But we don’t really use email.' And I said, 'What do you mean you don’t use email? Everyone uses email.’ And they said, 'No. It’s too slow.'"
Using high schoolers as a focus group for the future of a multi-billion dollar company? While I understand that they're on the cutting edge of what's next and that they'll be the users of the future, my traditional self cringes a little about the notion of basing your success on the tastes and proclivities of such a young generation. Particularly when they have yet to fully grasp the habit of good writing, functional grammar, and the ability to fully express their thoughts.
My concern arises from this kicker from the Fast Company article:
The teens told Zuckerberg it was too much trouble to think of a subject and to compose a formal message.
Too much trouble to think of even a subject line? I weep for the future.