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Facebook is adding e-mail to its inbox

BY BARBARA ORTUTAY

AND MICHAEL LIEDTKE

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook unveiled a new messaging platform Monday that takes aim at one of the Internet's first applications, e-mail.

Though chief Mark Zuckerberg didn't go as far as declaring e-mail dead, he sees the four-decade-old technology as secondary to more seamless, faster ways of communicating such as text messages and chats. In other words, Facebook is betting that today's high school students are on to something.

"We don't think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail," Zuckerberg said during an announcement in San Francisco.

The new platform, which will be rolled out to users in the coming months, integrates cell phone texts, chats, e-mail and Facebook's existing messages, which are like internal e-mail. It seeks to bring together all these different forms of communication in one inbox, centered on the senders rather than how they are sending.

Facebook will hand out @facebook.com e-mail addresses - mostly to make it easier to communicate with people who aren't on Facebook.

"If we do a good job, some people will say this is the way that the future will work," Zuckerberg said.

By adding e-mail to the mix, Facebook escalates its duel with Internet search leader Google Inc., which shook up online communications six and half years ago with its Gmail service. Google, which has its own nascent social network, called Buzz, has said it will roll out more features to counter Facebook's growing popularity.

Zuckerberg said he thinks more people will forego lengthy e-mail conversations for shorter, more immediate chats.

The first Internet e-mail system arrived in the early 1970s. Though e-mail is still a primary form of communication for older adults, recent studies suggest this is not the case for young people, who prefer text messaging.

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