So what is it with GMail anyway?

D. Keith Robinson asks what the fuss is about GMail anyway. Some
interesting points, and some very interesting responses.

Made me think for a bit. Why was I interested in GMail? Why did I try and
get an invite? Well, I’m quite keen to see what Google has to offer beyond
their searching business. There are many occassions where I think ‘I wish
I had a good, fast search engine’. Email is one such place, and the other
is the desktop – if the articles I’ve seen are true (sorry, no references)
Google are/might be working on file searching and getting themselves into
the desktop application market.

Why have I been prompted to think about email searching? I have a lot of
email; sometimes I need to delve into my archives to pick up email; I run
webmail (portability reasons); most webmail clients that just work off
IMAP are crap at searching.

A Google-like interface might create a fast-access database of my email,
ready for queries such as ‘ pay rise’. If Google’s
speed could be ported over to a single program and database, that’d
outstrip my current search by a factor of at least 20.

GMail offers this, with colourful forms to boot, but it’s run on their
server which has its limitations. Here’s why I’m not using GMail all the

* Google could delete my account or bar my entry at any point. That has
obvious implications about my data on their server. Google Adsense forums
are full of people who’ve had their accounts unexpectedly (and often
without clear justification) terminated.

* i can’t easily transfer my existing mail over to GMail. Best thing I can
do is forward my email from here to there.

* The whole ‘privacy’ thing.. (ads, retaining emails after account
termination, etc.) – although this doesn’t bother me as much as it does
quite a lot of people.

* I don’t want to be – I am!

The first point worries me quite a bit. It might also be true of other
webmail services, although – until now – I haven’t been particularly won
over by other mail services because running my own copy of Squirrelmail at
home seems to have many more benefits. Only when a service with superior
functionality has come along does this become an issue.

I really do hope Google offer a version that offers more options to
resolve the above – probably in exchange for money; I think they’ll get
quite a few customers! I also hope Google push themselves towards the
desktop market. There’s only so much of that irritating XP dog I can take.
It’s smily face holds up for only so long when you’re doing searches on
your own hard disk.