Forget the privacy issues for a minute. I spend a lot of time in and on email. Email is an essential app. Today I would prefer my own paid for email sans ads if for no other reason than I'm not sure my correspondents will all appreciate the potential privacy compromises of having the emails they send to me used for commercial ends.
But I really want Gmail's key advances:
- Powerful search engine
- Keeping everything together without sorting into folders - I can never remember where I put things
- Multiple labels instead of folders - much more powerful.
The one thing I like about the whole Gmail AdSense experiment is that it brings email out of isolation (hence a certain potential loss of privacy). This is a stretch, but in a way it's similar to what happens in social networking services where you lose some privacy but gain other network benefits. In the best possible scenarios, good things could emerge.
The interplay between the advocates and the nay-sayers may actually be a healthy thing that will elicit great creativity from Google's developers. Or, it could kill the experiment prematurely. I hope not just cuz it's more interesting this way.
While I'm wishing for better email, I must also mention that I would very much like to be able to convert emails into to do items and manage them powerfully. That might mean being able to move the messages to a to do list or outliner app.
Finally, I wonder about competition with Outlook. It seems to have such a big user base. Will Outlook users give up the integration, add-ins, calendaring etc. to get what Gmail has going once it gains further sophistication? I doubt it. But there will undoubtedly eventually be Gmail add-ins and the like. And perhaps there could be a conduit or something to Outlook and other apps. Hmm...
Excellent Gmail Tour & Evaluation:
Gmail Beta: First Impressions, 5/13/04