Facebook’s Gmail Killer, Project Titan, Is Coming On Monday

NEW YORK | Friday, November 12th, 2010 11:11pm EDT

Facebook could be poised to announce a radical overhaul of its messaging service, the rumored ‘Project Titan.’ But will @Facebook.com addresses really allow the world’s largest social network to rival Gmail?

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It looks like Facebook’s messaging system is about to get a long-awaited overhaul — maybe the rumored 'Project Titan' of earlier this year. Photo: Spencer E Holtaway/Flickr

It looks like Facebook could be poised to announce a radical overhaul of its messaging service, possibly the rumored ‘Project Titan’ of earlier this year. But will @Facebook.com addresses really allow the social network to rival Google’s mail service?

Facebook will hold an event on Monday that internet rumours are suggesting could include the announcement of its own email service. The announcement of “Project Titan” could see personal “@facebook.com” email addresses unveiled for the public, and overhaul the site’s entire messaging system.

Famous TechBlogs, such as Mashable and TechCrunch, have just received invitations for the press event on Monday. Unlike previous Facebook events, this one takes place in San Francisco.

Facebook Inc. chose not to have the event at its headquarters in Palo Alto due to the Web 2.0 Summit, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be speaking. The announcement will take place just a few blocks from Web 2.0 at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

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Many Tech Blogs have just received invitations for the Facebook press event on Monday. Unlike previous Facebook events, this one takes place in San Francisco. Picture: Facebook via TechCrunch.com

However, TechCrunch has reported that the product may be limited at launch, while pointing to the significant potential of an email application that integrates with Facebook’s popular places, photos and events applications.

According to Mashable, Facebook’s current messaging system is “difficult to manage; users are unable to send messages outside of Facebook; and the system can’t handle simple things like attachments and forwarding.”

Mashable’s Ben Parr added: “If Facebook really wants to take on Google, it needs to have a far more robust messaging system akin to web-based e-mail. Monday may be the day we see that happen.”

TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid noticed: “Facebook has the world’s most popular photos product, the most popular events product, and soon will have a very popular local deals product as well.”

“There’s also the social element: Facebook knows who your friends are and how closely you’re connected to them; it can probably do a pretty good job figuring out which personal emails you want to read most and prioritize them accordingly,” he added.

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Google itself denies it is building a social networking platform to compete with Facebook. Photo: Bapt748/Flickr

Google has more than two-thirds of the search market, and there is little doubt it is taking seriously the threat of Facebook, which has more than 500 million members but lacks business-orientated, revenue-generating services.

Last week, Google announced plans to raise salaries by 10% next year for all employees, interpreted as an effort to staunch the loss of top staff to rivals.

“They don’t have an absolute lock on the top talent anymore,” analyst Colin Gillis of BGC Partners told Reuters. “Facebook right now is accumulating top talent and it’s harder for Google to retain people.”

As social networking continues to challenge the power of search on the web, the moment may come when Facebook decisively threatens Google’s control of $24bn in annual search advertising revenue.

Google itself denies it is building a social networking platform to compete with Facebook. Instead, chief executive Eric Schmidt says it plans to add “layers” of social networking to its products.

Last night, Facebook continued to deny the reports that its email application will be launched at Monday’s media event where Zuckerberg is scheduled to speak. “We don’t comment on speculation about future products,” a spokesman said. [via TechCrunch, Mashable and Guardian (UK)]

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