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Sources say Facebook's Project Titan may be preparing for a clash with Google's own email giant, Gmail.  (Source: Warner Brothers)

The company sent out special invites on Friday to a Monday event.  (Source: Facebook via TechCrunch)
Facebook rumored to have been secretly been developing the service since the start of the year

The web email market is pretty packed these days.  Exact estimates of market share are problematic, as they're typically gathered by client image loads, hence minimizing the market share of clients like Google's Gmail.  Currently, though, most experts agree that Google's Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Apple Mail are the big four of the e-mail world (AOL Mail still has a pretty loyal following as well).

Facebook announced on Friday that it was holding a special event on Monday, November 15, 2010 at St. Regis Yerba Buena Terrace in San Francisco.  The invite has a number of hints that the event might be something email-related, with comment bubbles and a mail-stationary like background.

Reportedly the social networking giant will be announcing a full-fledged, stand-alone email client, similar to Gmail, complete with @facebook.com addresses.  The full-fledged client The client has been in development since at least February of this year, under the code-name Project Titan.

If that proves true the code-name would seem appropriate as the ensuing competition would indeed be a clash of the titans as the internet's two hottest properties -- Facebook and Google -- wage war.

So will Facebook release the Kraken (e.g. the "Gmail Killer" that employees have been bragging about)?  We'll have to wait until next Monday to hear for sure.


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Interesting times
By Tony Swash on 11/12/2010 1:28:06 PM , Rating: -1
What makes this development interesting is how it affects Google and the future of the web.

Until the rise of Facebook, Google was seen as the largest and dominant web presence. It was the company almost everyone was, until now, unsuccessfully chasing and it seemed in a powerful position using its cashflow from it's dominance of ad revenue to undermine everyone else's business model with free offerings.

Google seemed to be even capable of taking on Apple with Android and rapidly filled the gap left by the implosion of Microsoft's mobile strategy and in doing so offered a life line to a series of handset makers who otherwise would have nothing to counter the iPhone with. It is too early to tell whether Microsoft's counter with WP7, which directly competes with Android more than with Apple's iPhone, will dent Android's rise,

However Google's seeming success and its continuing strong earnings in advertising masks an ongoing weakness. After a decade Google is still a one trick pony, and that trick is nearly a decade old. For all the numerous initiatives Google has launched (and sometimes abandoned) over the last decade it has still not found a source of revenue that comes even remotely close to matching it's income from desktop search/advertising. With almost all it's income still derived from desktop search Google knows that the new mobile computing paradigm, which over a relatively short period of time will drastically undermine the old desktop paradigm, threatens it's one big revenue stream. That threat is real and looming. Thus Google's drastic decision to break it's alliance with Apple, which had been remarkably close, and launch the strong Android initiative. The problem for Google is that no matter how successful Android is it won't replace the revenue from its desktop business as all the evidence indicates that ad income from mobile search is a fraction of that from desktop search.

Microsoft faces a similar conundrum as Google, its only source of significant revenue and profit remains the Windows-Office duopoly which has bankrolled the companies success for nearly two decades. Windows-Office, like Google desktop search, won't go away but both companies know that their central pillars of revenue earning could drastically decline in the coming five to ten years. Both need to find new sources of revenue, to diversify into new sources of profits, and both have struggled to do so.

Apple has until now had the strongest response to the rise of the mobile paradigm and it began planning a long time ago how to respond. Unlike Google and Microsoft, Apple has launched three new product lines into the new mobile space each of which have been hugely financially successful, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Whether Apple's success continues of course is not known but it has come off the blocks the quickest and is currently in a very strong position.

Now we have the rise of Facebook and its success and impact is a new wild card. It seems that it's main adversary at the moment is Google and the fight between these two will be very interesting. Whether Facebook will develop as a threat to Microsoft or Apple remains to be seen.

Interesting times.




RE: Interesting times
By Aikouka on 11/12/2010 2:13:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For all the numerous initiatives Google has launched (and sometimes abandoned) over the last decade it has still not found a source of revenue that comes even remotely close to matching it's income from desktop search/advertising.


I'm certainly not affiliated with Google in any way, which makes this only my opinion, but I'd say that Google realizes that there's more to success than simply revenue. While shareholders would certainly disagree with that ( ;) ), there is certainly something to be said about the other popular "metric of success" that is tossed around often: market share.

Google and Facebook both seem to realize the importance of market share and when introducing some changes, you need to ensure your product has ample saturation to avoid losing users. An example could be when Facebook finally put advertisements on their site.

As another example, Google uses Android's Free/Open Source state to give it a huge boost in adoption rate among manufacturers. Chances are they could sell it and still be successful, but you could argue that it wouldn't be as successful... especially now with Microsoft's mobile OS now available (prior to that, there really wasn't a viable option for competing with Apple's iPhone).

Mostly just my own musings :).


RE: Interesting times
By frobizzle on 11/12/2010 2:30:16 PM , Rating: 2
Tony,

Walmart has a special on aluminum foil this week. You should pick some up and make a new hat for yourself!


RE: Interesting times
By Al Koholic on 11/12/2010 2:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
I was going to simply thumbs-down this comment but I am curious. Concerning these potential battles:

Imagine Facebook as a publicly traded company like GOOG, MSFT, and AAPL.

Facebook will have to rely entirely on ads for revenue growth initially.

To truly enter a fight with Google they'll not only have to eat ad market, but will also have to challenge the mobile OS/search/ad complex GOOG is currently in hopes of taking over.

Similarly, if they were to threaten MSFT, they would have to pray that Bing and WinMo7 don't prove to be sources of growth for MSFT in the ad market similar to Android/ads/search as in the above case.

Taking another step, they would have to threaten AAPL's device market and hope that AAPL's entry into the ad market isn't successful because, if it is, AAPL will have the exact same platform that MSFT and GOOG have with respect to mobile OS/ad/search. Well ok, AAPL lacks search but still...

The future of the web is mobile devices and mobile OS. The future of advertising growth is displaying ads on as many devices as possible and integrating them into everything that happens on a mobile device. Dominating the web is as simple as dominating ads.

IMHO, you are correct that the idea here is that GOOG is the right choice of a 'main contender'. Currently it has the best os/ad/search complex that exists. Future growth depends on the success of said complex. Now, MSFT could become a factor here, as could AAPL but both are far behind what GOOG is offering and are trying to catch up. This is the reason for AAPL's entry into search and MSFT's reason for creating Bing in the first place (not to mention pegging so much on WinMo7). The fact that Android is 'free and open' is a master stroke by GOOG in it's attempt to dominate the web.

Facebook has a LARGE mountain to climb to really contend with all of this. Sure, they will be displayed on the above outlined web domination platforms and that will be good for them, but until they really dig into the platform itself, I can't see them being seriously considered peers to their supposed rivals.


RE: Interesting times
By Tony Swash on 11/12/2010 5:57:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fact that Android is 'free and open' is a master stroke by GOOG in it's attempt to dominate the web.


But the problem for Google with it's Android strategy is that it may have avoided being shut out of the new mobile arena, an outcome it feared would be possible if another mobile OS became supremely dominant, but it takes them no nearer being able to monetize the new mobile web to the level and extent they can monetize the old desktop web. Until Google solves that problem it remains vulnerable to the expected secular downturn of the desktop web.

The important thing is not to view this as a struggle for market share per se (a topic that fascinates techies) because market share with no revenue or profitability is not a great place to be (ask Nokia). The thing is to look at it from Googles business point of view, which is of course what the people in charge of Google have to do. If in ten years a couple of billion people are accessing the web (and probably more importantly web services) from devices other than desktop PCs how can Google retain its current high revenues and high profitability? Currently mobile web use does not generate anything like the per capita revenue income for Google that the desktop web does. So what should Google's strategy be? Android is part of that strategy but it is not the answer. If two billion devices used Android does that guarantee to secure the revenues Google needs? No.

I don't think Google has a big joined up strategy, things are too fluid for that probably, I think what it is trying to do is insert itself into the ecosystem of the web with lots of parallel initiatives and hope that it can successfully monetize some. But it's hard. Note the current moves by the various TV networks to essentially kill Google TV

Now that Facebook is flexing against Google a new threat has opened up. Facebook is a big web entity but it too has been built on the old desktop web. Now it too needs to move onto the mobile web in order to grow and succeed and it too needs to come up with succesful monetization strategies. Facebook and Google find themselves on the same terrain both going after the same sort of goals. Google wants everyone to pass through Google services on the web, Facebook looks like it too wants everyone to pass through its services. This could be one hell of a fight.


RE: Interesting times
By Tony Swash on 11/13/2010 6:31:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Facebook has a LARGE mountain to climb


Not necessarily that large.

Facebook is now the most visited web site beating Google to top place.

That's quite some achievement.

Personally Facebook's charms elude me but there are 500 million who think otherwise and that number seems to be growing very rapidly indeed.

Facebook has been stealing Google's top managers in droves in recent months with the promise of IPO riches - hence Googles recent salary increases and bonuses.

The question is how ambitious is Facebook, whose turf do they want to invade and how good will they be at implementing whatever stratagems they come up with? To me it seems as if it's Google that is in their cross hairs but who knows.


RE: Interesting times
By cerx on 11/12/2010 5:25:29 PM , Rating: 1
GRAMMAR POLICE! Incorrect usage of "duopoly". You could say (maybe) Microsoft is in a duopoly with Apple for operating systems, but not Windows and Office.


RE: Interesting times
By Tony Swash on 11/12/2010 8:01:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
GRAMMAR POLICE! Incorrect usage of "duopoly". You could say (maybe) Microsoft is in a duopoly with Apple for operating systems, but not Windows and Office.


I am curious (genuinely) as to why you think duopoly is incorrect. I meant by it that Microsoft holds, or did hold, two (interconnected) monopolies: i.e Windows and Office.

Do you think there is neater way to express this concept?


RE: Interesting times
By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: Interesting times
By Alexstarfire on 11/12/2010 7:10:16 PM , Rating: 2
How did you turn an article about Facebook into an argument involving Apple and the iPhone? It's simply astounding.


RE: Interesting times
By Tony Swash on 11/13/2010 6:45:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
How did you turn an article about Facebook into an argument involving Apple and the iPhone? It's simply astounding.


It's not - its a comment about the way the rise of the mobile and the decline of the desktop is affecting the various big players of which the main ones are Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple. The main thrust of the comment is that Google and Facebook are in the process of colliding. If every time someone uses the word Apple with out attaching a criticism you get all hot and bothered then you will miss some interesting debates.


RE: Interesting times
By Alexstarfire on 11/13/2010 3:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
Not really. I ignored some dribble that you wrote.


RE: Interesting times
By Iketh on 11/13/2010 2:14:12 AM , Rating: 1
your name has "prick" written all over it


RE: Interesting times
By Tony Swash on 11/13/2010 6:19:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
your name has "prick" written all over it

How very pithy

pithy
adjective
pithy comments: succinct, terse, concise, compact, short (and sweet), brief, condensed, to the point, epigrammatic, crisp, thumbnail; significant, meaningful, expressive, telling; formal compendious.

Now all you have to do is struggle to be cogent

cogent
adjective
a cogent argument: convincing, compelling, strong, forceful, powerful, potent, weighty, effective; valid, sound, plausible, telling; impressive, persuasive, eloquent, credible, influential; conclusive, authoritative; logical, reasoned, rational, reasonable, lucid, coherent, clear.

Good luck with that


RE: Interesting times
By The Raven on 11/15/2010 12:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
Ok. Now your name has prick written all over it. But I take it you were going for that ;-)


RE: Interesting times
By Iketh on 11/18/2010 1:26:09 AM , Rating: 2
take note of the "short (and sweet)" part


RE: Interesting times
By The Raven on 11/15/2010 12:28:33 PM , Rating: 1
I find it interesting that you have this view regarding FB v. GOOG, but if the story was about Apple v. <insert company name> you would think of things completely differently. That is what is interesting.


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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