Gmail’s usage goes down, that is. We’ve been reading recently about shifts in consumer media habits, some surprising (don’t miss Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly’s analysis showing TV is the fastest-growing medium in the U.S., still far outpacing the Internet). And then we thought, we don’t check our personal email that often anymore, since we rely on Twitter and Facebook and messaging for intimate communications.
Here’s what Quantcast reports, based on direct cookie observations of traffic to the Gmail site. Down 50% in one year. It’s an amazing trend, and one to watch as Facebook enters the email space with its Messages.
In its effort to not be evil while taking over the universe, Google yesterday launched a free phone service you punch up from its Gmail program. The service allows you to dial any number in the U.S. and Canada for free.
Why would Google smack AT&T? More likely, it’s worried about Facebook, which has 500 million users and could soon launch its own calling or video-calling technology. Imagine the lock-in Facebook could achieve by adding the ability to record snippets, post to your stream, ring all your friends now online. So Google has elevated its Gmail game, leaving AT&T long distance a bit out in future third place. Play the game downstream to a world of mobile tablets with mics and webcams, and free two-way video may arrive sooner than you think.