Google transforming Gmail to rival Facebook?

9 Feb 2010

Google is preparing to unveil a widget for Gmail that will allow people quick access to updates on Twitter and Facebook in a move that will turn Gmail, which revolutionised email, into a comprehensive communications hub.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google could announce the new Gmail feature as early as this week.

Google’s cunning plan is to turn Gmail – not Facebook or Twitter – into the first place people will go to send and receive messages.

Gmail users can already chat via Jabber or AIM, make video calls and send SMS messages from Gmail’s web interface.

Google has been working to make Gmail more than a standard email service for years, with superior storage and search, and lately users can set an “away message”.

The new widget will allow users to include other content, for example, through their YouTube and Picasa accounts.

Fuel was added to the fire of speculation when it emerged that Google was holding a press conference for reporters at its Mountain View headquarters in California today.

However, Facebook’s willingness to allow updates to be shared on Gmail remains to be seen.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years