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Facebook may challenge Internet giants with Gmail killer

February 5, 2010 |  4:47 pm

Facebook has been challenging the Internet giants since infancy. Now, at 400 million users and growing, it’s firing a salvo directly at Google and Yahoo.

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reports that Facebook is deep into a project long rumored to be in the works: creating its own Web-based e-mail.

F With Facebook gravitating to the center of the online world for hundreds of millions, it is well positioned for such a move. Facebook users already  stay in touch and share links and photos with friends on the social networking site, making it a logical place to e-mail and chat. Time spent on Facebook soared to 27.6 billion minutes in December, up from 17.8 billion minutes in October, according to data from ComScore.

Facebook is all about communication, whereas Yahoo aggregates content and Google focuses on search. Yet both Internet giants have legions of faithful e-mail users and deep stakes in the messaging market. The proof for Facebook will be in the execution.

So it would make sense that Facebook tap the creator of the popular Gmail to lead its effort that TechCrunch reports has been dubbed internally “Project Titan” and that some employees have unofficially dubbed “Gmail killer.”

No way, says Paul Buchheit, the former Google engineer who joined Facebook last year after Facebook bought his social networking start-up FriendFeed.

“No, I am not working on anything related to e-mail,” Buchheit said on FriendFeed and Twitter. “Nor do I plan to.”

But a question remains: In the age of Twitter, texting and insta-chat, are users clamoring for another old-fashioned e-mail account? 

-- Jessica Guynn

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