Following Rivals, Gmail Will Add Status Updates

Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which shook up the e-mail industry when it integrated chat with e-mail, is now trying to catch up to its rivals by letting Gmail users share status updates. The WSJ reports that Google will soon add a “new module that will allow Gmail users to view a stream of status updates from people they choose to connect with.” If it catches on, that could potentially add a new force to the Twitter-dominated microblogging world, considering that Gmail had 132 million unique users worldwide as of last March (the last figures I could quickly get my hands on).

Unlike with chat, however, Google is actually following its two biggest e-mail rivals — Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) — in letting users share and track status updates. (Big caveat here: We don’t actually know all of what the feature involves or what it will look like; we’ve asked and will update if we hear back).

But Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) added social networking-like features — which let users share activities around the web, along with status updates, called ‘notes’ — to Windows Live way back in November 2008. And Yahoo announced in August that users of Yahoo Mail would be able to share status updates.