[qi:034] Over on The New York Times’ Bits Blog, Saul Hansell writes that both Google and Yahoo are thinking about using email as a backbone of a social environment. About time, is what I would like to say, and what took you so long, for crying […]

[qi:034] Over on The New York Times’ Bits Blog, Saul Hansell writes that both Google and Yahoo are thinking about using email as a backbone of a social environment. About time, is what I would like to say, and what took you so long, for crying out loud.

I had talked about this very same concept back in September: Is Email The Ultimate Social Environment? While Yahoo and Google are still talking about it, one start-up, Xoopit has already done it, and another one, Xobni, is well on its way to making that a reality.

While it is great to hear what Yahoo and Google want to turn email-into-a-social-environement, I won’t hold my breath to see something happen. Yahoo, apparently had plans to make email social a while ago, but tossed out the idea. So why would this time be any different? Yahoo and Google seem to have good intentions, but they would be better if backed by hard facts: like when will these features actually materialize for real!

  1. free market research company Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    great comment mate — agree email is the critical tool for communication and give liberty of hiding yourself in a think curtain i.e. reveal everything without an ugly raw..

  2. Did you mean to describe Xoobit and Xobni inversely?

  3. Om – it’s good to see Google and Yahoo finally realizing the email potential. Email is now getting it’s due respect in the social networking ecosystem.

    There are many more startups who are quietly working and innovating in this space. Coming 6months to one year will be exciting for this space.


  4. hey om, thanks for the shouts out. a new look to your mail, coming right up. if you are interested in checking out our service, we would love your feedback. gigaom readers can request a signup code here:


  5. Yahoo and Google open up their email inbox?

    Saul Hansell’s post at NYTimes has put email at the center of social networking evolution. “Inbox 2.0 Yahoo and Google to Turn Email into a Social Network” talks about  how Yahoo and Google plan to turn their email user base into ric…

  6. email for whom? you are clearly not talking about the under 18 crowd because for those kids emailing is an onerous task…

    gmail integrating some of those meebo-esque features is nice, but google integrating calls to any networking site using open social is the real move, and yahoo will get dogged again (i think)

  7. Om,

    Yahoo’s been using mail in the social space for years. They just haven’t limited it to THEIR mail service. Yahoo Groups is probably the largest aggregated social network in the world, and it is based almost entirely on email exchanges.

    Now I would admit that they have done little to innovate with a service that has been riding the power of email for years, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Yahoo Groups are social networks, and they are built via email.

  8. Social networking sites are indeed too public for most activities with one’s inner circle of friends and family. While such sites are useful for meeting new people or reconnecting with old contacts, most social interactions with an inner circle of friends and family occur over email. For that email has a big role to play.

    That is our belief at Innercircle.cc which makes it easy to connect and share things privately with your personal groups via email.

  9. i have been saying this since i saw myspace.
    if yahoo and gmail play their cards correctly they might hurt site like myspace and facebook.
    just imagine, you dont have to invite anyone… they are already in your network.
    simply brilliant.

  10. Hey Om,

    We’re looking forward to expanding the Xobni beta to a wider audience soon. The response so far has been awesome. Readers can sign up at http://www.xobni.com

    Co-founder, Xobni

  11. Trying to use email as a platform for building another Facebook is backwards, as there’s so much richer and deeper communication going on within email already. Leveraging that information and those relationships to provide for more powerful and relevant interaction is a huge opportunity, though. More here: http://www.emaildashboard.com/2007/11/inbox-20—emai.html

  12. Sachin Balagopalan Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Yup it’s about time….


  13. Email to Leverage Social Network

    Finally someone got a clue. You read (ha, right…) where I said that social networks are faddish because there is no true utility. Well, if MySpace or Facebook included an @facebook.com email account, people would stay for the long haul. Come to t…

  14. Sounds interesting, however I am afraid they may want to distort email into something that it’s not fundamentally, just to compete with Facebook.

  15. @Jim

    At Grouply, we completely agree with you about the enormous potential of Yahoo Groups. Grouply effectively converts your existing Yahoo Groups into powerful social networks. Check it out at http://www.grouply.com/register.php?code=gigaom and let me know what you think!

    Mark Robins
    Co-founder/CEO, Grouply

  16. the biggest challenge I have with webmail is its limited ability to organize an automate incoming emails into predefined buckets

    also given a fear of exposing my contact’s data to potential hackers – I limit the information I store online

    those things will need to be adressed for the social networking

    I would also love to have a tracking system that allows one to know when the email has been received/opened – to help bridge the gap of the IM’s

    as an inner circle tool there is potential
    but I think if there were some way of creating the same look/feel to a social page – but limited to the information being shared between the parties – I think you’ll have a winning proposition.

    then considering what could be done in a B2B environment ….

    my wishlist

    looking forward to seeing the beta’s

  17. I thought social network will extend from email services as – IMHO – ancestor of www world.
    Started when yahoo introduce yahoogroups where people with same interest can communicate, email extends its function not only P2P communication.
    Then IM start to take the lead, most of ppl use email not because they want to use it.. it because they love to interactively communicate with ppl in IM, they rarely checked email, only log in to the IM. Especially when the IM have more enhance features where user can sending a file P2P.
    Then, IM extends its function that we can stored any messages to an archive file. Which also one of email benefit.

    Then, social network portal… people register an email account so they can have a ‘residence’ in www and can apply to social network portal. in this portal, we can know and find more friend in a better way, can do a private messages (which email should take the part for this).
    Even, one of the research saying; most of youngster check their social network page than their email. :)

    This is the time; all store and forward messages should be only being done by email and any other application can do that should use this capabilities from existing email apps providers . Save space… less space, less electricity… stop global warming… :P (I’m taking it too far… )


  18. I use email at work. I’m starting to use Facebook to keep in touch with all my friends. I foresee this going further – “email accounts” will be like using a word processor — work only.

  19. I think it’s all because everybody wants to do everything in order to take the most profit out of it….
    How come smart ppl need to build a ‘PM’ engine in their social network while they actually know that all users are using their E-mail address as Social Network credential.
    I believe when all teenagers reach their productive age; ERPs will extends their capability into employees’ social networking… :) mmmmh… somebody must’ve starting to build it now…

  20. Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing : Email contacts – the natural social network Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    [...] Om Malik was an early and vocal proponent of making email the basis of your social network. His story "Google and Yahoo Finally Get The Memo: Email Is The Social Environment" [...]

  21. Xoopit Will Turn Your Inbox Into a Social Network – GigaOM Monday, March 31, 2008

    [...] trying to capitalize on simple common sense. Of course, it’s even more delicious that giants who own our inboxes — Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL — are simply twiddling their [...]

  22. November 15, 2007 | TechTV Update Monday, March 31, 2008

    [...] The New York Times says this is happening. TechCrunch thinks this is a sad idea; GigaOm thinks it’s brilliant. You decide. The Wall Street Journal is now embedding Digg links on its pages. Could this mean an [...]

  23. TechMacro :: (un)Official Daily Tech News Monday, December 8, 2008

    [...] plan was revealed in an interview by the New York Times with a Yahoo’s senior executive, Brad Garlinghouse, who was at the time [...]

  24. Email Is The New Social Environment?! | Creative Idea Powerhouse Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    [...] do less in your email and start to get productivity up. Last month, GigaOm posted an article about Email as the new social environment, which OM talks that Yahoo and Google finally realize that their biggest assets, 260million email [...]

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