The chilling part for investors, of course, is that email offers as grim a prediction as possible for the future of Facebook. First off, email -- like Facebook -- still struggles to find customers who are willing to pay for it. The Radicati Group report confirms that the vast majority of email accounts (somewhere around 75%) are given away for nothing. And like Facebook, the money that spins out of email is not exactly the stuff of fatted calves. This year Google (GOOG - Get Report) boasted that its Gmail product reached 425 million users worldwide, with 5 million businesses using its professional Google Apps package. Sure, that sounds great. But Boston-based analysis shop Trefis estimates that even though revenue will grow, just 1.1% of the share price of Google stock comes from the value of Gmail. And let's not forget that email -- just like Facebook -- faces brutal security issues that drive up costs for customers. According to the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, the San Francisco-based trade group that monitors spam and malware in email, the overall amount of so-called abusive email was holding steady at between 88% and 90% of total traffic. This costs everybody in this sector loads. Sterling Heights, Mich.-based CMS created a handy online calculator thatr estimates that a business with 10 employees loses about 20 days of work a year to email spam. Web 1.0 after all
Honestly, if you turn off the hype fog machine for a sec and compare any modern Web-based email service from Gmail to AOL (AOL) Mail to Yahoo! (YHOO) or even Hotmail and enable all the latest functions for list management, rich media sharing and Web-based list and group management, really, how different is that experience from Facebook? The answer is: not much. Ignore the investor spam: Facebook is no upgrade from Web 1.0. It is Web 1.0. It is time to value it as such.