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Friday, June 25, 2004

Gmail - Pros and Cons

I have been using the Gmail (beta) for quite some time now and at this stage, my gut feeling is that its not quite there yet to be launched as a commercial product, especially coming from a company such as Google, where quality is just of the supreme order.

Apart from the fact that Google wants you to use its Email Service, one of the primary reasons why you get a Gmail account is that you could do some Beta testing for the service and report Bugs. On 1 such occasion, where I decided to do some good for Google, I found 2 Bugs (which I thought were really basic ones) - of course, it might have been an oversight on their part, but its kind of strange that they might have overlooked such things. It seemed as if things had been released in a hurry. Of course, the product is still in Beta - so, I guess, Google can be excused.

Time and again, I have also found the server to be slow (compared to the other online Mail providers such as Yahoo! and even Hotmail). The server just hangs up on me and gives the error message, asking me to try back in 30 seconds.

All these apart, Gmail definitely has some really cool features, which are quite innovate actually. Since you have 1 GB of space, you can virtually forget about 'Deleting' the emails and start thinking about 'Archiving' them. So you can always retrieve an old email, archived some 2 years ago, by using the Search facility, which of course is powered by the Google technology !

Secondly, there is this powerful concept of Labels, which is the equivalent of Folders. The major difference between the 2 is that you can apply multiple labels to the same email. In other words, you can keep the same email in multiple folders. Neat eh ?

Lastly, the concept of organizing an email and its set of replies as a conversation for the ease of reading, is quite credit worthy. Of course, this is directly borrowed from the multitude of BBS & Newsgroups site on the web. But then, its really amazing to see this technology being put to use on your emails in the Inbox.

A lot has been said about the fact that your emails would be scanned and corresponding ads would appear in the email. But then, what I don't understand is why is there such a hue and cry about it. After all, this is going to be done by a machine - not by a human, who is eye-balling your email ! I do understand the privacy issues out here, but if Google goes not use this information for any other purpose, other than just serving up ads, I think, its OK. In any case, the ads serving technology is still far from being accurate - a recent survey in New York Times revealed that the Gmail ad serving technology was hardly found to be accurate. You can read more about it out here.

I am sure, Google will make quite a few changes to Gmail before its official commercial launch. Google needs to be careful in taking any steps this year - after all, its IPO this year is the most sought after event in the Stock Market ... to be really sure about it, you can always search on Google and find out the answer !

Keep Googling !


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