TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook will be unveiling a full-fledged webmail client tomorrow, to take on the likes of Gmail. Before you dismiss it as yet another unsubstantiated TechCrunch rumor, the New York Times also reported similar facts. If the story turns out to be true, Facebook could have a formidable email service, given the size of Facebook’s user base. Technology publications seem to be overlooking an Achilles’ heel that could make Facebook mail a no-go for many users.
What is that Achilles’ heel? Rightly or wrongly, Facebook is blocked by many corporations in mainstream America. Would you use an email service that you couldn’t access if you really needed to, except for on your smartphone? Yes, if the service has a POP3 or IMAP component, you could use another email client, but then what’s the point? That makes it no different than any other email service that you could port to an external service.
CNN, in an article by Mashable founder Pete Cashmore, is the only site that I’ve seen mention this problem. Understandably, the tech press sometimes is out of touch with the average user. While Facebook and Twitter may be an essential part of business to those in the tech sector, and even to many other businesses, much of America hasn’t caught on to that yet. Whether those businesses should be more social media savvy is another debate, but the fact remains that many users wouldn’t be able to benefit from Facebook mail for much of their day.
To be fair, we don’t know exactly what Facebook will announce tomorrow. Perhaps Facebook will announce a service so revolutionary or compelling that mainstream corporate America will allow Facebook onto its networks. How likely is that? If it happens, do you have any interest in a Facebook email service?