eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Trends: Facemail Unlikely to Replace Traditional Email

In a November post on eDiscoveryDaily, we reported that Facebook announced on November 15 that it’s rolling out a new messaging system, including chat, text messaging, status updates and email (informally dubbed “Facemail”) that would bring messaging systems together in one place, so you don’t have to remember how each of your friends prefers to be contacted.  Many have wondered whether Facemail would be a serious threat to Google’s Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Live Hotmail, given that Facebook has a user base of 500 million plus users from which to draw.  And, there was considerable concern raised by eDiscovery analysts that Facebook plans to preserve these messages, regardless of the form in which they are generated, forever.

However, Facemail isn’t likely to replace users’ current email accounts, according to an online poll currently being conducted by the Wall Street Journal.  More than 61 percent of over 4,001 participants who have taken the poll so far said they wouldn’t use Facebook Messages as their primary email service.  18.4 percent of voters said that they would use it as their primary email, with 20.5 percent indicating that they were not sure.  You can cast your vote here.  I just voted, so these numbers reflect “up-to-the-minute” poll results (as of 5:52 AM CST, Wednesday, December 08, that is).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions the Facemail model of email, instant messaging and SMS text messages as a simpler, faster messaging model than email’s traditional subject lines and carbon copies, which Zuckerberg considers to be “antiquated”.

Whether Facemail develops as a serious threat to Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail (or even Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes) remains to be seen.  However, at least a couple of industry analysts think that it could become a significant development.

“A powerful, unified presence manager would also enable the user to express how he’d like to communicate, and to manipulate that ‘how’ and ‘when’ availability to different types of contacts,” industry analyst David Card stated in a post on GigaOm.com.  “If Facebook establishes Messages as a user’s primary tool to manage presence across multiple communications vehicles, it would be an incredibly sticky app, with huge customer lock-in potential.”

Gartner analyst Matt Cain told eWEEK.com, “It will have little impact at first on the public portal email vendors because it is a barebones email service. But if Facebook makes it the equivalent of these other services, it will have a significant deleterious impact on competing email services”.

As stated in the earlier post, it’s important to have a social governance policy in place to not only address new mechanisms such as Facemail, but all social media mechanisms that might be in use by your employees.

So, what do you think?  Do you plan to consider using Facemail as your primary email service?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.