If you've been waiting for your chance at a Facebook email address, you may get it soon. Somebody asked about them on Quora, and Facebook chimed in with a response.
"The new Facebook messages is rolling out to more people more rapidly now. When you gain access you will be walked through a flow where you will be able to select an email address," says Facebook Director of Engineering Andrew "Boz" Bosworth.
Many have talked about the possibility of Facebook's new messaging system being a threat to webmail services like Gmail, though this has been downplayed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Still, more people signing up for Facebook email addresses could mean less people signing up for Gmail addresses, and some existing Gmail users could switch. It might not kill Gmail, but it's hard to say it poses no threat whatsoever, considering how many people are on Facebook.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at the World Economic Forum this week downplayed Facebook as a competitor to Google. Fortune reports:
Schmidt also challenged the assertion that Google is locked in a competitive battle with Facebook. "We have a competitor called Microsoft (MSFT)," he said. "Microsoft has more cash, more engineers, more global reach. We see competition from Microsoft every day." Facebook, on the other hand, "has clearly stated they don't want to get into the search business. Facebook users tend to use Google search. Facebook's ads business does not displace our advertising. I'm somewhat perplexed by the obsession because I don't think the facts support it. Things are going great for Google."
Well, Facebook uses Microsoft's Bing for its web search feature, for one thing. Facebook is really just getting started when it comes to advertising, and then there's that email thing. Speaking of which, Google is now testing display ads in Gmail. I wonder how those hold up compared to Facebook's ads, which are becoming increasingly targeted.
And just because Facebook doesn't want to do search now, doesn't mean it won't change its mind. The way it is capturing data all over the web makes it a pretty invaluable search tool, which is why Bing is tapping it.