Is Email Facebook's Competitor?

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece questioning whether or not social features in email will help drive traffic back to email. The current trend is away from email and toward social networking sites including Facebook. I am personally experiencing a similar trend. Last month I highlighted the fact that Facebook needs to upgrade their messaging system. I’m hoping that this is one of their priorities currently.

Seb Chan argues that casual email users “are already logging in to a website regularly to ‘check their email’ so it is more efficient for them to use login to a social networking website where they can do the same email check and keep track of their friends.” I couldn’t agree more but in order for me to use the social network messaging features more frequently than my email system, Facebook (and other social networks) will have to ultimately build an email client within their site.

While it is a far stretch for many of theses sites, rumors abound that Facebook is working on their own email client. People have been crying for an upgrade to their messaging system including the ability to search through messages. The real question is if Facebook launched an email system, would people shift from their existing email provider? Would you?