Facebook has been sending invites to the press calling them up for a media event on November 15. While not much is known about the event officially, speculations are doing the rounds that Facebook could be unveiling its new email product – an application that could take on the likes of Gmail and Hotmail and would comprehensively build up the direct messaging functionality of the current service.
According to Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet, this new webmail product could come with additional integration with Microsoft’s Office Web Apps. Office Web Apps, as you know, is the web form of Redmond’s popular Office productivity suite and will let users access Word and Excel files directly over the browser apart from storing these files on the cloud rather than on the local hard drives. The ZDNet rumor notes that the new webmail client unveiled by Facebook could replicate the Office Web apps integration that is presently available on Hotmail.
Considering that people spend more time on Facebook than on Google (the search engine and other products), it makes terrific sense for Facebook to bring such productivity tools to the social network. But then, given the sophistication of the Gmail service, Facebook’s new product could be more of a threat to Hotmail – Microsoft’s email service – rather than to Google or Yahoo. What do you think?