Facebook Event – Live Update – FMAIL


This was live blogging of the big Facebook announcement today about Fmail…

09:57 PDT Folks getting ready and taking their seats …  Mark Zuckerberg is about to take the stage to talk presumably Facebook’s new mail client, Project Titan. From what we hear this isn’t just an outgrowth of Facebook’s messaging feature, this will be a full on web client like Gmail except leveraging your social graph.

There’s been quite a lot of speculation since the invites went out last week on what this announcement would entail; Whether the general public would get POP and IMAP support and and whether we should expect @facebook.com email addresses or @fb.com email addresses as well what exactly being able to export your Facebook contacts to your Gmail and vice versa will mean  for users.

10:00 OK, we have kick off … Mark is speaking … he is babbling on about thanksgiving … good PR for US folks … but leaves us here in the UK waiting for some real info …

10:02 OK, now he is on about Gmail … notes that folks are complaining that it is too slow … its that its too formal … the wait, finding the address, think of a subject line … etc… all this extra stuff adds a lot of friction to email …

10:04 in SMS and IM is lighter and simpler … so thats what they are going to talk about now … they have a messaging system, about 350 Million using it now … its really simple … more than 4 Billion messages sent each day through FB … vast majority is 1-to-1 …

10:06 messaging is growing faster than the user base … so many more are using it … going to talk about the nest version of this messaging now … its not email … seamless integration with all the other channels you want to utilize … it needs to be immediate …

10:10 they want to have a minimal solution, not make it a more complex version of email … 3 main features … 1) Seamless messaging across all the different ways you want to communicate, it will hook into email, but its not email  2) Conversation history, the old subject threading model is not real-life, its super simple conversation with 1 history  3) Social inbox, they know who your friends are, so they can filter spam, stuff not from your friends. SO … they want to leverage your list of friends as a white-list to filter who you get messages from.

10:13 Mark hands over to Andrew Bosworth to give us a demo and their thinking behind it all … the want to pull together all the fragmented ways we have of communicating … email, SMS, … we keep a list in our heads of how we interact with different folks.

10:15 We will get a facebook.com email address … but its optional … what they have is more like chat

10:20 Ah … we get an iPhone app to support this today as well … but a txt msg will also work … lots of different IM networks as well. Talking about conversation histories as well … it gives context to relationships … they have rebuilt the infrastructure to get this to all work, they have invested in HBASE (new technology) … talking about attachments now as well … that will also be supported

10:22 More geek talk … lots of engineering details … it has all been done by a massive team of 15 … !! (thats huge?) …

10:24 Demo of how we get the stuff we care about and can put the other stuff of passing interest into an “other” folder … and then even lower down is a “junk”. This gives a lot of control … once you give out an email address, you loose control over who can send you messages … but this will allow you to have a lot more control … so you only see the stuff you care most about and can block the rest ..

10:26 Mark is back … they have been working on this for a year now … this is not an email killer, it is a messaging system that includes email as one part of it .. they do not see that as an alternative to gmail or yahoo, but rather they expect more will IM and message because its simpler and easier … perhaps 1-2 years out folks may see this as a better way to communicate …

10:28 Will be rolled out slowly over the next few months via an invite system … OK … over to Q&A now …

10:29 “What does the system not yet do?” … it speaks email, but no sync for example, but they can think of lots of little features, will be driven by feedback.

10:30 “How do you decide how a message gets sent?” … you can make a specific decision, or it can default to what you used … but if they are on-line, it can just get it to them as an IM …

10:32 They have tried to make it such that you don’t have to think about it … “Any plans to add a VoIP” … Mark: perhaps over time, right now its text based … they will see what users ask for over time …

10:34 “Will they have ads in the messages, or will they use content to generate ads” … Mark: its as you have it today in FB … gmail is a really good product, the press talked about this as a gmail killer, that has not been their goal at all.

10:36 “How does this impact folks not on FB?” – you have control over who you communicate with and how …you can delete your history … the fact that a user uses FB should not preclude you from communicating wit others not on FB … if you are not in FB system your messages withh go to other … but you can then identify them as important so that their messages go into your mail folder.

10:41 “Can you filter out specific types of messages?” – No … but at least all your emails with pictures of cats from your mom go into just her thread.

10:45 “So what happens to corporate email addresses?” – They are going to get fb.com domain (so internally they will use fb.com and facebook.com is for us).

10:46 “Some folks are public and some are very private friends, how do we handle this?” – nothing changes.

10:47 “Now having close and not so close friends, does this erode the FB policy of expanding your social network?” – No … it still connects you and just allow you to map your real interactions out.

10:48 “Does this force you to enter a mobile number?” – No, you don’t need to do that, its an option for SMS messages, but only if its set up. You cannot configure others. … We also get message forwarding … and also the ability to add or remove users from a thread … as for how much storage users get? – most will not notice 9as long as you use the system in an appropriate manner) … so thats a hint that folks who bulk-email will encounter limits …

10:50 … and thats a wrap … they are done.

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