Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

Can somebody explain the fascination with gmail?

Tue 22 Jun 2004, 03:13 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I guess the Google folks must be marketing geniuses, but why is everybody fighting for an invitation to get gmail?  Because you have to be invited?  Maybe I'll invite just a select few of you to buy COEX! Links? Would that work?

Seriously, is it a free e-mail client, folks.  Sure aren't any of those around, right?  Of course there are.  And if you were all Outlook users and had to suffer with the searching in that client, I might understand, but most of you have Lotus Notes, which has great searching.  So why?  Why?  Honestly, I don't think that since Tom Sawyer convinced his friends to whitewash the wall for him there has been a more hoodwinked bunch.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Anybody have a good reason?

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

176.1. Christopher Byrne
(06/22/2004 12:42 PM)

You may be more right than you think Ben. Think about kids. The more they cannot have something, the more they want it. I once worked in an office where the best way to get volunteers was to tell them that a workteam was invitation only and they had to be nominated to get in. Worked like a charm!

As far as the allure of GMail...I will never use it except for sacrificial email address purposes to gather Spam (tm) and will tell them I am a 85 YO widow who uses the Internet once a week, but I admit I would like to see the marvelous UI that I have been reading and hearing about.

Now, see that candy dish your wife put on the Kitchen counter? It's for the guests and you cannot have any until offered to them...

176.2. Andrew Pollack
(06/22/2004 01:11 PM)


I think you know me enough to know that I'm not swayed easily by that kind of nonsense.

From what little I've played with it thus far, when its working, GMAIL makes an attempt at a long needed paradigm adjustment to the way we treat the inbox. Its not a huge leap, but from the perspective of how we USE mail, I think they've done a nice job. You have to have a few email conversations with it before you start to appreciate the work they've done.

Its not earth shattering, but its nice.

176.3. Oliver Regelmann
(22.06.2004 13:52)

Remember the time, where Yahoo was the ONE search engine. You only found what some editors at Yahoo thought to be worth indexing. You had to click through that hierarchy of categories and never found what you wanted. Adds were blinking and buzzing and disturbing you.

And then google arrived. A blank page with one logo and one text field to enter a search term. Suddenly you found what you searched for. Without adds overall. Just good search results. Fantastic.

Now it's something similar with gmail. I don't mind the 1000MB. I don't mind the search engine. I don't mind the concerns about google investigating my mail with AdSense.

I want to look at what google invented this time.

I only know the german webmailers and and they're both cluttered with ads and options and menus and millions of nifty but somehow unnecessary features... I assume the same applies to, etc.

And AFAI can say after some minutes with gmail, it's great. It is simple to use with a very fast, keyboard controllable interface. Faster than anything I saw for a long time.

That kind of GUI is hopefully the future of webmail providers as google was for search engines.

176.4. Duffbert
(06/22/2004 04:21 PM)

I'll give my 2 cents worth... You're right in that it's not Notes. Conversely, I don't always take my laptop with me everywhere. I prefer to know that wherever I have a web browser, I can get to my mail. That's why I use Yahoo and now GMail. Do I actually *need* GMail? No. My paid Yahoo account was bumped up to 2 GB of space. But I'll probably treat my GMail account (user name duffbert) as my "writing" account now. That way I won't end up losing reader comments in Yahoo anywhere.

176.5. Tony Kelleran
(06/23/2004 06:00 AM)

For me it's just a geek factor. It's a new "webmail" service that you can only see and play around with if you are invited. I guess I wanted to experience it for myself. I don't plan on using this for anything remotely personal. I will subscribe listservs to this address (maybe) or other bogus subscriptions.

176.6. Rob McDonagh
(06/23/2004 06:12 AM)

It is partially the coolness factor. Google has stages an absolutely brillian guerilla marketing campaign with this, just in time for their IPO.

That being said, Gmail is the *best* webmail client I've used yet. And I've tried them all. It is definitely no Notes client. But it IS well designed. And as Andrew pointed out, the adjustments they've made to the email metaphore are subtly powerful.

In any event, if I were you I wouldn't believe it without trying it myself. So here's a simple offer for you - I'll send you an invite if you're interested. I don't want to send it ahead of time because I don't want to waste it if you have no interest. But if you want to try it out, let me know...

176.7. Bruce Elgort
(06/23/2004 06:30 AM)

It's about learning something fresh and new. The keyboard interface for GMail is quick and easy to learn. The paradigm of folder management is gone.

Ben - break out of your Notes box - there is a big technology world out there. I have recently broke out of my "Notes/Domino" box and I am learning so many new things. Don't take this message the wrong way. It's just time that Notes and Domino Developers learn some new technologies such as LAMP, Java, XML and others.

I am constantly investigating new products, especially those that relate to email do to my relationship with the OpenNTF Mail project. I also use this newly acquired knowledge to keep my customers and coworks apprised of new stuff.

I need some coffee.



176.8. Bruce Elgort
(06/23/2004 06:41 AM)

Just one other thing. Compare iNotes (DWA) to the GMail UI. I know that GMail doesn't do calendaring. But just think if the corporate world had a messaging UI like GMail. Now where talkin'. iNotes is slow and bulky while GMail is slick and fast. Have you tried to use folders on iNotes? Slooooow and hard to use.

OK now for that coffee :0)



176.9. Chris Toohey
(06/23/2004 08:22 AM)

Quite frankly Ben, I agree with you in regards to the Gmail deal - it's becoming the "Tickle-Me-Elmo" of the IT world. I think it's soaring popularity stems from the typical geek's wanting to belong or be in on something... and as this is an invite-only "club"... well, you get the idea!

176.10. Bruce
(06/23/2004 08:40 AM)

Can you say clever marketing?

176.11. Nathan T. Freeman
(06/23/2004 11:14 AM)

Let's talk about specific features...

1) Automatic message threading. And very nicely done, as thread elements load incredibly fast and apparently without additional server traffic.

2) "Labels" instead of folders. This is basically a throwback to the Notes v2/3 concept of mail categorization, and it's good to see someone bring that back.

3) Interface improvements. When I'm looking at a message, there's a "reply" button. But even better, there's a text area that when I click in the text area, immediately has me writing my reply. In other words, "reply" doesn't have to be a specific UI action -- you really just start typing, almost like a chat. Subtle, but extremely rewarding feature.

And yes, there's a geek prestige to it. I just made reference to this over at Chris Linfoot's site as well. The invite scheme was a brilliant move.

I wish I had the time to work up a Notes web interface like this one. It really would beat the pants off the DWA interface (which is still pretty damn impressive, if too cluttered for my tastes.)

176.12. Christopher Byrne
(06/24/2004 01:53 PM)

Ok, I could not keep my hands out of the cookie jar..and it is beyond geek is very very interesting indeed.

176.13. Christopher Byrne
(06/25/2004 08:37 AM)

Charles posting sounds along the lines of mine yesterday on Chris Linfoot's blog:

And today, by just copying myself on an email to the GMail account, I got 100% perfectly targetted ads just based on the words in my signature. For only the second email in the account and the only one that included this signature, that is not bad and advertisers will eat it up.

176.14. bonj
(06/30/2004 10:00 AM)

Google did get a fair amount of press when they did the same thing with Orkut, which you really don't hear much about anymore. It appears they just ran with that same idea for Gmail. Of course, I think it has stayed in the news more because it raised some controversy, and there are a lot of people that would like to get past the 2-10 mb mailbox limits of so many services, and to top it off, it is free (for now).

Orkut kind of reminds me of AOL, possibly more organized than the open web, yet with blogs being as interactive as they are these days, not sure if there is a need to share ideas with just those that have joined the club.

The one complaint I mentioned over on Joe Litton's site about Gmail is that right now I can't get to Gmail with my phone as I can Hotmail or Yahoo.

176.15. Ricky
(06/22/2005 05:32 PM)


Could you please send me a gmail invite