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Facebook to Google: We've got "Gmail Killer"

November 12, 2010 |  8:58 am

Facebook The rumors of Facebook e-mail -- nicknamed "Project Titan" inside the company and dubbed the "Gmail Killer" -- are real. That's what someone familiar with the product tells us.

It's not for sure, however, that Facebook will launch e-mail on Monday, as some blogs have reported here and here. Facebook this week sent out invitations to a media event Monday at the start of the Web 2.0 conference. The invitation strongly hinted at a mail launch with an envelope design.

Also unclear is if Paul Buchheit, the former Google employee who created Gmail and who now works at Facebook, is working on it.

But the imminent launch of a full-fledged Web-based e-mail system (and one that would integrate with Microsoft Web apps) would shed a bright light on the latest skirmish between Facebook and Google over sharing contacts.

What Facebook e-mail could do is solve longstanding complaints about Facebook's messaging system (tough to forward, mark as read and upload attachments), which was originally built for back-and-forth communication like SMS. It also could get some Facebook users to spend more time there rather than clicking over to Gmail or other e-mail services.

E-mail, even if it has its detractors, is still one of those must-have apps that none of us can do without. Facebook has 150 million users in the United States. If it could convert a third of those, it would have the second-most popular e-mail service in the U.S., reports Silicon Alley Insider.

This is an ambitious bid for Facebook. For many people, Facebook is already their most complete address book (and their most popular photo sharing product and events product). An e-mail system that no longer restricts communication to Facebook and brings together all of those pieces of social interaction could hold significant promise.

Facebook said in an e-mailed statement: "We don't comment on speculation around future products."

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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a news conference at Facebook headquarters in August. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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