Word recently got out that Facebook was holding an event on Monday (see above invite), but it wasn’t immediately clear how big a deal this was; after all, Facebook’s most recent event, announcing Facebook Deals, was of interest to some business owners, but it probably wasn’t terribly exciting to the mass of Facebook users. If the latest reports are correct, however, Monday’s event could indeed pose a major shakeup to the Web: Facebook’s long-rumored “Gmail killer,” Project Titan, may be ready for the limelight.
Not much is known about the specifics of Project Titan, but word is it’ll be more than just a prettified new Facebook mail inbox:
[TechCrunch’s] understanding is that this is more than just a UI refresh for Facebook’s existing messaging service with POP access tacked on. Rather, Facebook is building a full-fledged webmail client, and while it may only be in early stages come its launch Monday, there’s a huge amount of potential here.
Well-connected Microsoft-watcher Mary-Jo Foley says that her sources at Microsoft not only confirm a new email product coming from Facebook, but say that Microsoft will be a big part of it:
Titan, according to the buzz, isn’t a mere revamp of the current Facebook direct messaging capability; it will be a new full-featured Web mail product like Gmail, Hotmail, etc.
I have a source close to Microsoft who said the Facebook November 15 event will, indeed, be focused on Facebook’s new e-mail product. So what makes the event potentially interesting for Microsoft, its customers and partners? Supposedly, according to my source, the new Facebook e-mail will include Office Web Apps integration.
(Office Web Apps are the Webified versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that Microsoft makes available for free to consumers and as paid add-on options for its business users.)
If the enormity of this isn’t immediately apparent, consider that one of Gmail’s biggest selling points is its integration into Google’s suite of cloud products. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and the like all constitute one synergic package. In partnering with Microsoft and providing the core email product itself, Facebook could vault into a similar position, with the advantage that all of it would further be plugged into Facebook’s social network. It awaits to be seen what’s in store for Monday — the Microsoft bit could be presented as an afterthought rather than a key selling point — but this could represent another bold push by Facebook into Google’s old turf, with the added benefit of presenting web users with more choices.
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