Only a few years later, while business email users were banging their heads in frustration at finding their inboxes overflowing—or worse, that AOL or another program was automatically deleting old emails—Google introduced Gmail, with the novel innovation of unlimited space so users never have to delete another email. Armed with Google's unique algorithm to search through these ever-expanding troves of past emails to ferret out the exact one you are looking for, it has proven to be an invaluable time-saving tool compared to sifting through folders that Microsoft Outlook continues to employ.
Then, along came Facebook, and with it, the beginning of sending "messages" (really emails) to friends, colleagues, clients and customers, and even conducting complex business transactions. There is even a business school in the United Kingdom that deploys its online lectures via the Facebook platform!
The biggest innovation in Facebook messages? The ability to simply click "return" or "enter" (depending on your keyboard) to reply instead of moving your hand from the keyboard over to the mouse pad and clicking "send." A few seconds? Sure, but they do add up. And, in the fast-paced Internet world, a simple advantage like that is all it can take to be a game-changer.
Now, Facebook has gone not one better, but two better over Gmail by introducing the ability for users to import their CRM, email spreadsheets, or yes, Gmail contacts into their Facebook page (that's your fan or business account, not your personal one).
Of course, Facebook still doesn't have some of the functions of Gmail, most notably the ability to create custom contact information, but give the company time.