The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Gmail, Google’s email service, is going to rival Facebook and Twitter. Then USA Today did the same, targeting Facebook as the next one to receive a Google bomb. The two media giants got the scoop, but probably missed the core of the whole situation.
That is centered on who, if anyone, Gmail is really targeting and Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson thinks it’s Twitter, not Facebook. He’s got a good point, though, but he misses the reason that Facebook isn’t an easy Google target and why Twitter definitely is.
First, Facebook is #4 on the most-visited websites list world wide, with Google being number one. The two services, however, aren’t really competing on any sphere. At least, not directly. Google is already battling Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo! on several fronts and would be, frankly, stretching too thin to take on Facebook, against whom they really have no beef. Google hasn’t even attempted to get into the social media game and if they were to do so, taking on Facebook would be a lot more difficult than, say, Twitter.
Twitter, meanwhile, is a relatively soft target. Sunday’s Superbowl was a reminder of that, with the service unable to keep up with traffic. With users of Twitter seeming to get used to the Fail Wale and turning immediately to other venues when it happens, Twitter needs to either step up to the plate and fix their core service or bow out to the next rival who can.
That next rival could be Gmail. Google has the facilities, the experience, and the know-how to make a new, improved Twitter. They could also easily include some features that Twitter users are continually asking for: embedded links that don’t use up space in the 140 limit, embedded pictures and other media, etc. Given that Google owns both YouTube and Picasa, this is an obvious fix.
Most likely, though, CNNTech is right: what Google will announce tomorrow is neither a Facebook nor a Twitter killer. Instead? It’s just a lame status update box on your Gmail account that will likely be ignored by 90% of Gmail’s users.