Facebook’s New Messaging System: All Your Messages Will Belong to Us

Facebook is set to announce this morning what many people believe is an email system that might go up against Gmail and other Web mail services. Other folks are not so sure a head-on assault on standard Web mail is a great idea, or even a likely one. In fact, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Robert Scoble that it’s not really email as we think of it, which isn’t surprising. Facebook clearly has the social DNA and the technical chops to add its own wrinkles. Not least, it certainy has the financial resources to do almost whatever it wants–or, perhaps, the financial imperative to fulfill the almost ridiculous expectations by shareholders, even if they are technically private. But we’ll find out shortly.

UPDATE: This is not a new email system per se, though clearly Facebook would like to see it subsume email in coming years–and for that matter, subsume pretty much all your communications (which worries some people). Instead, it’s Facebook’s attempt to 1) help people organize their conversations among various communications systems–email, Facebook messaging, SMS and chat–into single threads; and 2) help people view only messages from close contacts by default, although there will be separate folders for messages from other contacts and for apparent spam. The new messaging system will be by invite-only at first but roll out widely over the next few months.

My quick take before getting a chance to try it out (which I will shortly, thanks to a fast invite from Facebook): This is not a revolutionary product out the gate, and you won’t want to dump your email accounts yet, if ever. Many details remain to be worked out, from how it will work with non-Facebook members to how well it sorts messages in the various ways promised–which is why it’s not rolling out to every Facebook member yet. And like any product offered up by a Web powerhouse, whether it be Facebook or Google, we’ll have to see whether the data and potentially privacy we give up is worth the value. But offering a way to bring together various communications methods in one place–and organize them automatically by conversation thread, as well as by which are likely to be most important to you–seems like a smart move if Facebook can pull it off in a smooth way. That will be the trick.

Here are my liveblogged notes, with some of the highlights in bold. And here’s Facebook’s blog post on the new messaging system, which sums it up thusly: See the Messages that Matter.

And we’re underway. Continue reading

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Google TV’s Search for a Living Room Hit

Now that Google TV, the search giant’s shot at bringing the Web to the television, has been out for a few weeks in the form of the Logitech Revue settop box and Sony’s TVs and Blu-ray machine, all eyes are on how it’s doing. Truth be told, it’s still too early to know. But Rishi Chandra, Google TV’s product lead, offered some insights on Google’s thinking in a talk today at GigaOm’s NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco with NewTeeVee co-editor Janko Roettgers. Here’s what he had to say:

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Hulu’s Jason Kilar: We’ll Hit $240 Million in Revenues This Year

Hulu is at the center of much of the controversy over how television will fare in the Internet age. The joint venture of NBC, ABC, Fox, and others offers one of the most complete collections of online TV content on demand. But it has blocked some key services such as Google TV. It also has announced a subscription service, Hulu Plus, for $10 a month–again, though, not yet available on a lot of the so-called over-the-top TV devices.

So I’m liveblogging (at times paraphrasing) CEO Jason Kilar‘s talk at NewTeeVee Live in San Francisco.

You should be able to watch Speed Racer when it’s convenient to you. You should be able to view advertising that is relevant to you.

So what’s the future of TV going to be like? It’s going to be a number of different things. Consumers will be able to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch, wherever they want to watch. Most content will be delivered over the Internet eventually. This will be disruptive.

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Television in the Cloud: ActiveVideo’s Jeff Miller at NewTeeVee Live

You can’t walk through a Best Buy these days without tripping over another new TV add-on box that lets you watch TV shows and movies from Netflix or Amazon Video On Demand, access apps like Pandora, or even (in the case of Google TV) browse much of the Web. ActiveVideo Networks, though, has a different idea: Create and distribute content from the cloud, avoiding the need to write apps and run them on myriad devices.

So I’m watching ActiveVideo CEO Jeff Miller at GigaOm’s NewTeeVee Live, a conference in San Francisco on the future of television in the Internet era. (I’m unexpectedly housebound this morning, so instead of blogging from the show as I had hoped, I’m blogging from the cloud via Livestream‘s stream of the show.) Here’s what Miller had to say:

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How Will Streaming Video Hit Traditional TV?

In the wake of broadcast networks’ controversial decision to block their Web sites from Google TV devices, the power of the broadcast and cable networks to determine how their content will be viewed is top of mind everywhere from Silicon Valley to Hollywood and New York. I was hoping that a panel that was to include executives from NBC Universal and CBS would shed some light on the logic (or at least provide some fireworks), but those two panelists dropped out, as did ESPN and Turner Broadcasting executives on an earlier panel. Apparently fireworks is the last thing these folks want.

Nonetheless, there was plenty to talk about at the Streaming Media West panel “How Streaming Video Is Changing the Television Landscape.” On the panel: moderator Paul Alfieri, VP of communications and marketing for Limelight Networks; Sibyl Goldman, VP of entertainment at Yahoo!; Bhavesh Patel, VP of interactive media at Fox Sports International; and Lenny Altschuler, director of multi-platform marketing at Televisa.

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The Long-Awaited Boxee Box Gets a Hollywood Preview

Few consumer electronics devices have been more widely anticipated, at least by the more geeky set, than Boxee‘s settop box for bringing Internet content to the TV–since Google TV debuted three weeks ago, anyway. The uniquely shaped Boxee Box will debut on Nov. 10 in New York, adding a potent new player to the rapidly expanding market for Internet-connected TVs and add-on devices.

Today, Boxee CEO Avner Ronen offered a preview at the Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, where such devices are viewed with much more wariness and even fear than in Silicon Valley. First, he offered his version of the landscape (paraphrased at times):

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Shakeout Coming in Internet TV Boxes

If consumers are likely confused by the raft of devices to bring the Internet and apps to the television, the TV industry isn’t so sure what they will mean for various players, from content providers to cable networks to cable and satellite TV providers. Folks attending the Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles today got some answers from a panel of TV and device makers.

The gist: There’s a shakeout coming as more and more devices come to market this year and next. While the growth of interest in alternatives or supplements to cable TV may drive sales for the next year or so, the ones that don’t catch on quickly will start dropping like flies. And with Google and Apple putting bucketloads of bucks into their offerings, it seems likely there won’t be room for all the alternatives that already exist, let alone new ones still to come.

On the panel were moderator Andrew Wallenstein, senior editor at PaidContent.org; Dan Kelley, senior director of marketing for D-Link, which worked with Boxee on its over-the-top device to be released on Nov. 10; Jim Funk, VP of business development at Roku; John Griffin, director of connected electronics at Dolby; and John Koller, direct of hardware marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment America. Here in more detail is what they had to say. Continue reading

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