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Would adding status updates mean Gmail is having a case of Twitter envy?

February 8, 2010 |  2:10 pm

Gmail-chatGoogle may be adding status-update profiles similar to Twitter to Gmail, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the matter."

Google already facilitates status messages that display under user names in the instant-message chat area of its webmail client. As the rumor goes, the change would archive status messages and display them on a profile page rather than replace previous ones. The new feature could go live as early as this week, the Journal writes.

Silicon Alley Insider is already calling the feature Google's "Twitter-killer." A case of blogger's hyperbole.

Yahoo Mail -- the biggest webmail client according to Hitwise -- added a Twitter clone recently that has been mostly ignored.

Sure, it makes sense to integrate social networking features into Google's most popular social product. In June, a Google spokeswoman said the e-mail service had "tens of millions of users." But the search giant has already tried its hand unsuccessfully at social networking a few times before.

Orkut, a Facebook competitor, is ignored by Americans. Then there's Dodgeball, a location-based social network that Google bought in 2005 and shuttered last year to be replaced by Google Latitude -- another service that hasn't really taken hold. Google Reader, too, has a mess of social features appealing to a small niche.

However, if status archiving had been in Gmail earlier, it might have stopped Justin Halpern from swinging over to Twitter for Stuff My Dad Says (our prudish name for his more vulgarly-titled project). As he described in The Times on Sept. 2, the only reason he created a Twitter account for his dad's messages was to preserve the posts he was already putting out for friends using Gmail.

-- Mark Milian

twitter.com/markmilian

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