Facebook to launch "Gmail killer" webmail on Monday

Facebook is following in the footsteps of rival social network MySpace and gearing up to unveil its long-rumored webmail product — referred to internally as a “Gmail killer” — on Monday.

The existence of the webmail project, dubbed “Project Titan”, was first revealed by TechCrunch in February. Now the site is reporting that Facebook will finally unveil the webmail product at a press event on Monday, and a source has confirmed the news with VentureBeat.

Yet another hint that Facebook’s Monday event is mail-related: The invitations were made to look like envelopes. We don’t have many details on the product yet, but it must be a major overhaul of Facebook’s current messaging service if the company considers it a legitimate “Gmail killer.”

Facebook may also be partnering up with Microsoft to integrate its Office web apps into the email service, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The two companies partnered earlier this year to launch Docs.com, a bid to combat Google Docs, so it makes sense for them to also work together to take on Gmail.

MySpace launched its own mail product last year but failed to make any huge waves, since users were already leaving the site in droves. The MySpace offering also doesn’t include features like POP and IMAP access, which lets users access their mail accounts on email clients. I suspect that Facebook won’t make the same mistake.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed rumors of Project Titan in June, saying, “We’re not building a Web-mail competitor. People already use Facebook for messaging.” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg followed up his comments by saying that email may eventually become obsolete.

The Facebook crew was likely pulling a Steve Jobs by saying nobody needed email, when they were actually in the process of building an email client of their own. But Zuckerberg’s stance is somewhat telling as well. I expect Facebook’s email will be more than just a Gmail clone linked with your Facebook friends.


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