LinkedIn replacing email? No time soon…

Over on RWW, Bernard posted suggesting that LinkedIn is both a Gmail and an Outlook killer. His rationale seems to come from the fact that LinkedIn mail is always up to date (as member update their own records it doesn’t rely on first a contact remembering to notify a change of detail and secondly the information being updated in Outlook Gmail. Bernard also values the qualitatively differentiated contact, anyone on your contact list is by definition high quality so some of the heavy listing in terms of networking has already occurred.

So far so good, but there’s plenty of reasons why this will never fly;

  • Walled gardens – sure LinkedIn might open up their network but using their platform as an outlook/Gmail replacement is (almost) as proprietary as it comes
  • LinkedIn is business specific – I’m not sure about Bernard but my Gmail contacts run to around 2.5k individuals. Some business (and bear in mind I’m involved in several different businesses), some personal friends, some family friends – I want to be able to email anyone from my email app – it therefore needs to only to be neutral and open, but it also needs to be use agnostic – LinkedIn is by definition geared towards business use
  • Out of network email – Bernard suggests that, as email standards are open, LinkedIn could handle email outside of the LinkedIn network. In doing so LinkedIn would have negated any benefits of their in house email offering and would have recreated Gmail – why would LinkedIn dilute its special sauce just to compete with a product Google gives away?
  • Part of the compelling reason to use Outlook/Gmail is the scheduling functionality – it doesn’t make much sense for LinkedIn to recreate this but not having that offering is a deal breaker to most users

Sorry Bernard but I reckon you’re right off the mark on this one.

Now, Bernard does make some other good points. Fact is that Gmail as a free offering is just a little scary from the reliability, continuity and security point of view. There needs to be another solution that is paid for, web based and enterprise grade. Oh yeah – there is.

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