Did Google Over-react to Facebook Messages?

The face-off between Google and Facebook over data-exportability has been the talk of the web these past few days.

It started when Google blocked Facebook from importing users’ Gmail contacts. The move was apparently aimed to stop or derail an upcoming project Facebook was working which has been speculated as an ’email/Gmail killer’ giving birth to a messaging service that will give users the coveted ‘@facebook.com’ email address.

It turns out that Facebook was indeed working on a messaging service dubbed ‘Project Titan’. But as clarified by Mark Zuckerberg:

Today I’m excited to announce the next evolution of Messages. You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, email or Messages. They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time. You shouldn’t have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use. Simply choose their name and type a message.

We are also providing an @facebook.com email address to every person on Facebook who wants one. Now people can share with friends over email, whether they’re on Facebook or not. To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.

So, since ‘Titan’ is just Messages which is not a new email service but rather a ‘hub’ that allows Facebook users to communicate directly to their friends outside of Facebook, would Google still block Facebook from importing data from Gmail?

Or would Facebook Messages and other social networking sites for that matter, indirectly and slowly kill email since by Zuckerberg’s own account, discovered that high school students aka the young ones today, rarely use email, people would just signup to Facebook since they will not be completely in a ‘walled garden’ anymore.

For now, as long as Facebook requires an email address for an individual to open account, then Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, etc would still have its relevance and use.

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