The battle over Gmail contact migration into Facebook just got an interesting twist: Improffice, a six-month-old startup that appears to consist of only Eduardo Fernandez, has put together an application that pulls contacts from Google into the social network.
Now pay attention to the timing of this disclosure: The Friday before a press conference that might involve “Office-like functionality” on Facebook.
The contact migration tool is the creation of a 26-year-old — the same age as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerman — in Chicago, who had already been working on helping companies move information from Gmail to Google App accounts, and moving more of said data from App account to App account.
Fernandez’s tool sounds cool at first, but there are a couple of glitches. First, the software doesn’t use Google’s application programming interface (whoops!) so his program doesn’t remember passwords keyed into it. More concerning is the fact that Fernandez’s server can’t accommodate more than 50 contacts at a time — think of all the people who are going to want to use this software. Fernandez told Wired.com that he would increase server capacity to handle more volume if the software proves popular.
I hope Fernandez figures out quickly that media coverage could lead to a spike in traffic for his software. Proactively scaling up would be better than waiting until it’s possibly too late. A system outage is bad for business, even in early stages. So too, some kind of “cease-and-desist” action from Google or Facebook would complicate matters for him. However if Facebook decided to play white knight and buy out Fernandez’s Improffice, then additional server capacity could easily get added.
On the other hand, Fernandez’s software could become obsolete as early as Monday, depending on the details of Facebook’s forthcoming announcement. If Monday’s news from the social network turns out to involve another area — well, look at the name of Fernandez’s company, with some letters capitalized for effect. ImprOFFICE.
Does Fernandez’s software have a short shelf life ahead of it? How much will this capability matter for future members of Facebook who have yet to join the social network?