Friday, May 21, 2004

Gmail: Or ain't I special?

So a number of people using the Blogger interface were invited to test Gmail, the much hyped Google e-mail service that started beta testing at the beginning of May. Hyped by techies and non-techies alike, demand for a G-mail account is reportedly so high that addresses have been auctioned off on E-Bay and a Gmail swap site has sprung up.

Too bad I didn't know how difficult it was to score a Gmail invite when I signed up, else I would've tried to score an address like or (Shortly after writing this, I found out that Gmail requires a minimum of six characters as your user name to counter spamming -- good job, Google.)
    Initial impressions:

    * Ease of use: the revolutionary feature of Gmail is that messages are threaded. That makes the layout work a little like ezboard, with the e-mail exchanges feeling conversational. It also eliminates the need for automatic copy of previous text (the dreaded ">").

    It's hard to overstate how much easier this feature makes e-mail browsing.

    * Search: As expected, the search function is pretty amazing. You can search by filters -- sender, subject line, text, etc. In fact, Gmail uses search filters instead of folders to sort, so you never have to spend eons moving messages to folders.

    * Address book: addresses are automatically saved, with a feature that allows for sorting by frequency of correspondence.

    * Shortcuts: haven't tried this yet, but one-stroke shortcuts are supposed to be a great feature.

    * Storage: 1,000 megs, man, or 1 gigabyte. More than I'll ever need. And hopefully, I'll stop paying for fucking Yahoo! mail's extra storage space. (The storage space is one key selling point for Gmail; I wonder how Yahoo! will respond?)

Absent a major revamping by Yahoo and Hotmail, I expect Gmail to eventually overtake those internet e-mail accounts in popularity. It's probably the first step in Google's eventual domination of the portal market.

I'm pretty loyal to Yahoo, easily the site I most frequently use, but you gotta hand it to Google for their innovations.