Unlike expected, Facebook has not unveiled a new webmail service competitive to Gmail. Instead, we will see a new inbox generation, combining messages from different channels, among them e-mail and SMS. Thereby, the recipient decides how messages should reach him.
“Facebook Messages is not a Gmail killer”, Mark Zuckerberg stressed while presenting the service. Users can select which communication channels to use, whether SMS, chat, e-mail or Facebook private messages. Messages reach the recipient on the way he has chosen, so the sender does not have to think about which is the recipient’s preferred way.
In conjunction with the new service, Facebook also offers its users an e-mail address following the email@example.com scheme. However, Facebook does deliberately not offer classic e-mails: Messages don’t have subjects and cannot be sent to multiple recipients using CC or BCC. And you submit them with pressing the Enter key.
Facebook is grouping the whole communication by people, regardless of which way you used to send the message.
In order to prevent messages from good friends to get lost among invoices and other e-mails, only messages from friends are displayed directly in your inbox. Messages from other people are stored in a second folder that you are able to look through easily. If a friend is not active on Facebook, their e-mail will get stored in a separate folder for first, but can be moved to the inbox. Thereafter, all subsequent messages from this sender will reach your inbox directly.
If you want to, you can limit which people can message you in your inbox by declining e-mails from people that do not originate from your own friends circle.
Facebook Messages is launching in the coming months and will gradually be made available to users. At facebook.com/about/messages/, you can request an invite for the new system. After receiving an invite, you can also invite your friends to Facebook Messages.