Okay, this is getting too stupid. Even Tim O'Reilly seems to be sucked in by Google's reality distortion field now. I guess they've been taking lessons from Steve Jobs, because Tim usually isn't this easily excited by non-innovation. (Or maybe Tim was an early investor in Google? Anyone know?)

Gmail is fascinating to me as a watershed event in the evolution of the internet. In a brilliant Copernican stroke, gmail turns everything on its head, rejecting the personal computer as the center of the computing universe, instead recognizing that applications revolve around the network as the planets revolve around the Sun. But Google and gmail go even further, making the network itself disappear into the universal virtual computer, the internet as operating system.

For god's sake, it's web mail with a really big quota!

Now maybe I'm missing something here. And if I am, I hope a Gmail tester or two will set me straight (I have not had the time I'd like to play with it, but I have heard from a few of those who have). Let me recount the "innovations" from Google's Gmail as I've heard them:

  1. Giving users a lot of space. Okay, this isn't rocket surgery. Disks have been getting cheaper for a long time now. Do you honestly expect to see other large (and even mid-tier) web mail providers not increasing their offerings to match or surpass those of Gmail? It seems like a no-brainer to me.
  2. Proving virtual folders, conversations, search-based message lists, or whatever you want to call them. So we've got threading (not new) plus virtual folders (not new) in a single mail interface. Well, stop the presses! It's amazing to think that no mail clients have offered this functionality in the last 5-7 years! Oh, wait. They have.
  3. Adding context-sensitive ads to your mail. Yippie! I'm gonna switch right away so I can start seeing SPAM that I cannot filter even in my previously non-spam mail. Sign me up!

Yup. I've come up with three things. Did I miss something? I must have, because Tim's convinced that this is very, very important but I'm just not seeing it.

I mean, it "turns everything on its head" right?

It feels very incremental to me, but this is supposed to be part of the big Internet OS In The Sky (the drum Tim's been beating for a few years now), but I haven't seen the API yet. Or the new services they're offering. Or a version that works in the [modern] browser I use.

Can we please tone down the hype a few notches and get back to thinking about services that actually offer something remarkable and innovative? Something with an API. And if we're going to beat the Internet OS horse drum some more, how about something that actually fits into what one might think of as an infrastructure service rather than an end-user application?

Posted by jzawodn at April 16, 2004 06:45 PM

Reader Comments
# Dave Winer said:

Great stuff Jeremy. Keep on asking the tough questions.

on April 16, 2004 06:59 PM
# tomrowton said:

That's fantastic. I thought I was the only one not messing myself just because Google is _planning_ to enter a new market.

Then again, if I have to sift through 8 zillion articles on Whidbey and Avalon to find an article I'm looking for to do X on .NET _today_, I think my head might explode.

I think what's happened here is Google has become the Blizzard of the Web. Super-devoted fan(boy)s that are all a-titter at the slightest mention of future plans. I'm not saying O'Reilly or anyone else (specifically) is a super-devoted fan(boy), but there are an awful lot of folks treating Google the same way a lot of gamers treat Blizzard. Sure they deliver. Sure, they overdeliver. No, it's not the second coming.
It just (webmail | a game).

Boy, I sound cranky. You struck a chord. Nice going. ;)

on April 16, 2004 07:26 PM
# Rafe said:

I think it's definitely more evolutionary than revolutionary, but the UI is very different than any email client I've ever used before. There's some useful innovation going on in that department.

on April 16, 2004 07:31 PM
# ben said:

I have read more negative articles about Google (mostly regarding privacy) since they announced GMail than I have in the entire time before.

And this whole time I thought Yahoo was the evil corporate privacy destroying, FBI contracting, personal data sharing entity, not Google. j/k

on April 16, 2004 07:43 PM
# Mark said:

OK, you know you've gone off the deep end when Winer shows up with an "attaboy". Really, that should be a red flag for anybody. Take a break, turn off the computer. Yahoo will still be there for you Monday morning, I bet.

on April 16, 2004 07:46 PM
# Patrick Berry said:

It's by far the best web mail I have ever used. I've always hated web mail. First it was because I was hooked on mutt, then because I was hooked on Apple's Mail.app.

It's fast. I mean 'damn that's fast!' fast. Big deal? Well if it's no big deal how come nobody else does it?

How come it doesn't work in Safari? It's beta, they say they are working on it. Same goes for it's usability for the blind and being able to export your mail.

As far as the ads, they are far less intrusive than the ads in Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail.

Does Google have to pay for the hype that people outside of google are selling? I mean are you more upset with Tim or with Google? Google has said so little about gmail, have they really been the ones to build the RDF? And there is definitely a RDF around gmail.

Of course one could say the giving out so few accounts they have gotten the RDF ball rolling. And you would probably be right.

on April 16, 2004 07:50 PM
# Olav said:

"rocket surgery"


Is this a spoonerism?


on April 16, 2004 07:54 PM
# david said:

Rocket surgery: The art of performing surgery on a rocket. Typically done by monkies with intelligence of several rocket scientists under observation of hidden camera bananas.
Yes, Jeremy is right. Gmail isn't anything new or flashy to look at. I can have all the unlimited space I want..on my own machine :-)

on April 16, 2004 08:11 PM
# Eric Vitiello said:

I've been wondering if anyone else was thinking this. MS Outlook does everything Gmail does, except the spam, and of course, it's not nearly as quick on the searching... but do you really need to search at the speed of light? And my biggest question to Gmail -- can I import all of my old mail? I have email dating to 1993. And when I'm tired of Gmail, can I export all of my mail?

If either of those questions is a no, then I'd say no thanks to Gmail.

on April 16, 2004 08:19 PM
# gmt said:

As a Gmail user, it feels much more than incremental. What you're missing is that this is the first webmail app that feels as fast and usable as a native client app. With 1GB of network storage for free. The only competition is oddpost.com, but that has some tens of megs for $30 a year, works only on ie/win, and clones the outlook interface.

To reply to your points in order:

1. Disks are cheap. I can buy a terabyte for $1000 from fry's for sure. But the large-scale storage, serving and fault-tolerant system that does the real work? That's not cheap to build and maintain. Google can do it at low incremental costs, as Skrenta points out on topix.net/blog but the others might have issues. Yahoo could do it possibly. Definitely not MSN/AOL. SpyMac? Hah. If disks are so cheap, why hasn't Yahoo started offering unlimited storage (there's an idea!) yet?

2. Yes, threading and virtual folders are old hat, but they have not been done this well in a webmail client to date. You're talking about native clients. Gmail provides some native client features at almost native speeds. Keyboard shortcuts too.

3. The ads are not inserted into the email. They are displayed in the web ui, in a separate pane, alongside the message. Compare this to the large honking ads on MSN or the ads that Yahoo puts as a forced email signature. And have you ever used Yahoogroups? Huge ads forced on every third message view. Argh. The ads in gmail don' show up that often either, most personal mail doesn't seem to have targetable content.

I agree that O'Reilly feels a bit kool-aidy in the second half of the article. But the first half is an accurate review of gmail. And he does have a point, this is the first webmail app that is fast and clean and easy to use and free. We need more of this.

on April 16, 2004 08:41 PM
# J Al Anderson said:

Lets not forget the search appliance that is installed on many company intranets today. Thin yellow pizza boxes ready to search the internal network.

Make it a green box for email and then it is easy for corporates to make email work and without a lot of fuss and a lot of tinkering.

Internal contextual ads now seem a little ominous to the users but make sense to the boss. New technology hits the bosses' radar screen and they post ads internally for feedback on the technology among people discussing it, perhaps even identify them and separate the posers from the real deal.

just my instinct of taking things too far...


on April 16, 2004 09:21 PM
# Seun Osewa said:


I thought you weren't going to mention anything about GMail. I don't think there's any invention that is not 'evolutionary'. What google is offering has never been offered by a _free_ webmail provider, period. And its unfair to call google adsense ads spam; you had them on your weblog only recently.

Comapnies like yahoo have learnt that a company doesn't need to teach its loyal/hardworking employees to be biased. Perhaps GMail is 'only' evolutionary, but it is still trememdously cool!

Best Regards,
Seun Osewa

on April 16, 2004 09:35 PM
# paul nakada said:

what feels most groundbreaking here is the fact that providing this service is so cheap to google. no oracle database backend, no homebrew pop3/imap server backend. the beauty is that every incoming email becomes a static page in the google search index. it's just another web page that needs to be stored, cached, indexed and searched.

google's strength is storage and indexing, and email was a prime candidate since emails never change.

you'd be hard pressed to find google implementing an address book or a calendar since transactional processing is definitely not a strength of google's.


on April 16, 2004 09:46 PM
# Yong Su Kim said:

I agree that Gmail on its own is not that interesting. The question is what is the infrastructure that they have behind Gmail? If it's something that can easily scale to tens of millions of users with petabytes of storage, I think there's something there that is pretty incredible.

However, I do agree with you that all this talk about Google providing an internet OS is a combination of hype and wishful thinking. Even if they did have an internet OS, I don't think Google would ever make it available to end users since there's really no sensible business model. I still remember when people got all excited about Netscape being the new operating system. We all know how far that went.

Despite all of our wishful thinking, we're going to be stuck with Windows for a very long time.

on April 16, 2004 09:50 PM
# Worbit said:

GMail is an example of a great thin client, the one that Sun and Oracle keep going on and on about. It's a web app, but, as pointed out above, it's as fast and usable as a regular thick client. With large, reliable storage and great search. Now if Google would extend its API to allow more access to its storage, indexing and serving facilities, developers could come up with web apps as cool as Gmail and as good as regular clients. That's the promise of the network computer. I think that's what O'Reilly is trying to get at through all that delirious blather in his blog.

Yahoo Mail and Hotmail are miserable web apps, they're just excuses to foist ads on users, they are not usable on a regular basis.

Speaking of APIs, there's a Google API, an Amazon API, an eBay API. Where is the Yahoo API? The oldest Internet company hasn't gotten around to offering an API in almost a decade ... And Microsoft is supposed to be the King of APIs, but nary a web service in sight...


on April 16, 2004 09:51 PM
# Aristotle Pagaltzis said:

I just wanted to say that "Blinded by Gmail's Gigabyte?" was a horrible title. I don't know exactly where Tim O'Reilly got his ideas, but there seems to be not the slightest indication in his blog about the gigabyte being of any significance to his train of thought.

on April 16, 2004 10:58 PM
# Kevin Marks said:

Gmail looks like a great place to keep mailing lists. Unlike Yahoo groups they keep the ads discreet and on-topic.
I have over a GB of mailing lists on my hard drive that I'd love to have someone else store for me in a useful searchable form.
Revolution? no.

on April 16, 2004 11:24 PM
# Hanan Cohen said:

Down Under, in Australia, lives a beatiful Email service called fastmail.fm

Two of the best things there are: the web interface which is well thought of and constantly improving and the cluefulness of the company which runs forums for customers to ask, discuss and suggest.

No disucussion on webmail is complete without looking at fastmail.

I am a paying costumer and enjoy paying for the service I get there.

on April 16, 2004 11:50 PM
# Kevin Fox said:

Hey Jeremy,

It's interesting to note the sharp difference in tone between those who speculate about 'what's the big deal' and those who have used Gmail. It's easy to find people who grouse that it's 'incremental' and 'what's the big deal?' but it's more productive to read the words of those unbiased people who have been using the product and are telling you it's a big deal.

Sure there are applications that do threading, and sure there are ones that provide neigh infinite storage space (on your desktop machine) and sure there are some that are searchable by index (instead of just a raw text search that scales at O(n) (that is to say, badly). But try to find one that does all these things, does them well (saying you support threading is one thing, but doing it well is another) is accessable everywhere, and is free.

For the most part, an email application is a zero-sum market. You're going to use one predominantly, and it's relatively worthless to have a desktop app that gives you great storage and a web app that offers a slow subset of functionality. With that in mind, users who have actually been playing with, and writing about Gmail (like Tim, incidentally) have found it to be something new, different, and better.

The title 'blinded by the gigabyte' couldn't be more misnamed, because it's the actual experience of using the product, more than just looking at the specs ('a free gig') that is winning people over. The only people who are blinded are those who are ignoring the feedback of actual users and making a summary judgement about a product they haven't used.

on April 17, 2004 12:46 AM
# Richard Lee said:

Well, there is the "Tagging" feature, which supplants folders, which constrain you to a single hierarchy tree. Tagging allows you to tag a mail with a category tag.

Essentially, this means a mail can belong to more than one category -- multiple hierarchies. This transcends the folder metaphor, which is antiquated and rigid (albeit useful and simple).

This is not a Google innovation -- information management people have known about multiple hierarchies for many years. But it is good of Google to introduce it to the world at large, who are still constrained to thinking in a single hierarchy.

on April 17, 2004 12:53 AM
# m0rph said:

for f**k sake... for a company that has managed to store the Internet, or should I say, WWW, (-Google caches every page it indexes, and that is a LOT of pages-) then I'm sure they can tackle a mail service, and judging from Google's record of not being evil then I'm sure their service will be great, as the GMail beta-testers are claiming.

on April 17, 2004 01:16 AM
# said:

It's great, because the beta-testers claim it is?

If I was making a webmail service, I'd sign up beta testers who already use webmail a lot, and are upset with current offerings. I'd want people who'd use it a lot -- that's the whole point of a beta.

So when beta testers claim it's great, well, yeah, that's exactly what I'd expect. They're webmail users who are doing the beta precisely because they're not entirely happy with what they've got. Google is smart enough they won't start a beta if it really sucks, so of course beta testers will gush.

I can see this being a flash in the pan. Half the planet says "This is the greatest program ever!", the other half says "GMail sucks!", and then in 6 months Google has converted a bunch of people from other free webmail services, desktop emailers keep doing desktop email, and everybody goes back to what they were doing before they heard of GMail. (Can I really see Tim using this service for all his email? Nah.) In which case: yeah, what was the point? Google has found a new way to sell advertising -- which is the only real innovation I've seen from Google. GMail is just another delivery agent for ads.

on April 17, 2004 02:01 AM
# Mark said:

Saying "For god's sake, it's web mail with a really big quota" is like saying blog software is like BBEdit dumbed down a little (since you could and many did maintain online journals 10 years ago). From Tim's "O'Reilly's Radar" speech at the emerging technologies event we know he thinks the big things are internet-as-platform, services, etc. The "innovations" you list up are maybe small, but are arguably the tipping point where many will forgo PC email clients.

What's missing in G-Mail as far as Tim's vision goes is data-aggregation-of-user-created-data and web-services-api. The latter may be coming; the former may be indirectly related to the advertising angle.

on April 17, 2004 03:57 AM
# Russell said:

I guess Dave's still pissed about the foo Camp snub.

on April 17, 2004 04:02 AM
# Marilynne said:

I basically think Tim's onto something, but he neglects to consider the issue that your whole life will be subpoenable by your disgruntled ex-employee, your husband in a divorce action, whatever.

on April 17, 2004 04:07 AM
# Ed Hall said:

I had multiple overlapping hierarchies for my email twenty years ago, along with the ability to search messages on various criteria while viewing, moving, linking, or deleting the results individually or en mass. It's called MH, and it was essentially just a collection of command-line tools using the Unix filesystem as its message store. MH was criticized for being too inefficient -- one message per file made it wasteful of storage and somewhat slow -- but that level of abstraction is what made it so powerful. Anything you could do with files, directories, links, and so forth, could be done to mail messages.

So it's interesting that Google is using their massively distributed and indexed "filesystem" to implement their email service. Although I have to agree with Jeremy that it's no great shakes feature-wise at the moment, I suspect that its highly flexible architecture is going to give them a lot of leverage in integrating new features. And, of course, it makes scaling their service very, very simple and cheap. (On the other hand it may also wind up limiting them in other ways.)

That said, I think that Google is going to be in for a big surprise once the abuse starts. Any time you set up free, publically-accessible storage, you're creating an attractive nuisance for the lowlifes of the net. The bigger the storage, the greater the attraction. They are stepping into much deeper and rougher water than they have with their previous offerings. It will be interesting to see how they deal with it...

on April 17, 2004 04:56 AM
# sparkes said:

Tim is a fan of Google (and Amazon for that matter) because they are examples of how Free Software can be used to build a propriatory business.

Gmail is a good example of how Google are becoming the internet for some people, just as AOL was before. This is both a good and a bad thing. At least Google are upfront about the privacy issue and are taking part with discussions.

The main problem people have is the fact they think Google is 'one of us' it is not unless you are also a massive business with a fantastic eye for using an oportunity without loseing your core business.

Gmail takes the core business (very focused but not in your face advertising using ad words and it's own search engine tools for finding what is really related) and puts them into a new area, email. Certainly not revolutionary but Google have never been revolutionary they have always been about the evolution of an idea.

Soon Google will be everywhere. You will hear Google advert technology on the radio, your tivo will tell the advertisers what ads you are likely to stop and watch during ad breaks and what you will skip. Advertising will be far better targeted not a bad thing for the advertisers and we can still just ignore them ;-)

on April 17, 2004 05:01 AM
# Tim O'Reilly said:

Jeremy, maybe you didn't read Rich Skrenta's blog, which captures the reasons for my enthusiasm. Gmail is an example of what you might call a "tipping point innovation." That is, it's been possible for some time, and there are a number of players (your employer, Yahoo! included) who could have pulled it off. But someone finally did it, and it happened to be Google. Giving 100 to 250 times the free storage provided by other services and making it work with Google-level search capabilities means that webmail can be more than a secondary convenience, or the email of choice for home users. More significantly to me (because I'm interested in understanding long term trends and their impact on what becomes possible as time and technology advance), it makes a bold statement about where both storage and the network are going.

Heck, Napster wasn't that innovative technically. Peer to peer networking schemes had been tried before. But most of us were blinded to the possibilities by the dominant client-server paradigm. It took a college student who grew up in the age of the internet to realize that once everyone is connected, you don't need to have all the songs in one place. We're still working through the results of that disruptive insight.

Obviously, web-based applications have been around for years. There's nothing fundamentally new here. There have been both consumer web apps, from AOL, Amazon and EBay to Yahoo! Mail, and enterprise web apps like salesforce.com. But gmail seems revolutionary to me because it's the first web mail app that suggests that it might actually replace desktop email for serious users.

Hey, if Yahoo! thinks they can do a better job, I'm all for the competition. But if you enter the market with an expanded storage option and powerful search features, you're validating my point. Google has changed the rules for everyone. That's an innovation in my book.

P.S. Since you raise the issue, I do own a small amount of Google stock. I was an investor in Pyra (Blogger.com), and helped Evan to negotiate the sale to Google. But you should know better than to hint that I'm influenced by that fact. Remember back in 2000, when I led the one-click protest against Amazon, one of my largest customers? I call it as I see it, regardless of financial consequences. I don't appreciate the suggestion that I'm just trying to tout Google.

on April 17, 2004 08:47 AM
# Matt said:

The interface is where it really stands out. The gigabyte storage is significant in that it's many times more what anyone else is offering, not that it's technically amazing. If you want to poke around I can give you access to my account.

on April 17, 2004 09:51 AM
# Craig said:


very easy to remove the adsense ads. Just get that powerbook you've been so eager to get, then install PithHelmet on Safari. Nicely snips out AdSense ads everywhere. Occasionally I run across some blog where someone's discussing so new feature of AdSense, and I have to turn off PithHelmet for a while to understand what the heck they're talking about.

on April 17, 2004 10:22 AM
# Jon Gales said:

It's a whole lot more than 1GB of storage. It's a better way to email. I don't get the fear over text ads--give me those any day over what MSN/Yahoo! give. Plus, though it hasn't been talked about much, under the text ads there are also NON sponsored links that match your context. It's slick and not evil.

Gmail is a desktop app that works in your web browser. It's quite a feat. There are some missing features for power users (being able to check and send mail from different accounts for example), but with no more features that it has today, Gmail will give Hotmail and Yahoo! a run for their money.

Besides sucking at spam filtering, which I assume will improve, I have been quite impressed.

on April 17, 2004 11:27 AM
# mmk said:

I've been told that Y! and Hotmail folks arent allowed into the walled garden^H^H^H^H^H^H inner circle. Is that true?

I was surprised when you were *not* a part of the beta testers, but that's just me....

on April 17, 2004 11:10 PM
# JJ said:

Well, 1 gigabyte is not only incremental, is one order of magnitude more. Come to that, ADSL is just a faster modem.

on April 17, 2004 11:57 PM
# Eric Kant Singha said:

The perception of what Google may do upon entering a new market may be tied to how they have historically retained relatively significant focus on a narrower range of services. I think its an open question whether Google moves like this are a dispersion of their focus or a new area for it. For instance, having no inside knowledge, I yet imagine Google to have architected its own highly efficient, low-byte count method of storing and indexing e-mail, rather than use an existing database... but for all I know, they've got a license from Oracle [tongue in cheek].

I suspect public fantasizing about what Google may accomplish will diminish when Google becomes a public company.

There are great things that might be done with this area of technology, but the problem seems to be getting a sigificant web concern to focus on fully developing such technologies; and maybe there is the open question of profitability.

I still remember great services like the free reading of e-mail over the phone provided by [defunct] portal MyOwnEmpire.com, years ago.

I really can't figure out the GMail privacy concern, though: I don't see any additional danger relative to currently exsiting services provided by others. Web e-mail providers have megabytes of my personal messages already, what they do with that data is mostly a matter of trust, not policing.

Where is the hubbub about A9 saving users' searches? Or the fact that the US Government has gained huge powers to snoop on its people (and has no reservations on snooping on people outside its borders) which surely must eclipse all else?


on April 18, 2004 01:34 AM
# loquo said:

Google is now entering an unprecedented territory and the temptation of mining and exploiting “personally identifiable information” is irresistible. They can easily match (if they wanted to) your search history (either by ip or by cookie) with your email content.

I’m simply concerned that they’re amassing too much power, in this day an age, you’re not what you eat but what you search for. They now say that they’re not evil, but we’ll wait and see how they will react to future shareholder’s pressure to “monetize” their dominant position.

Now, I think this entry is a low punch to disqualify google and fails to acknowledge google’s attempt to provide “non desktop email” for advanced users. So far yahoo and aol and hotmail as miserable apps for professional use.

on April 18, 2004 04:22 AM
# WSResearchXP@rediffmail.com said:

Sign this email up to receive any spam. We are conducting research on spam.

on April 18, 2004 09:45 PM
# Matthew Elvey said:

"the first webmail app that is fast and clean and easy to use and free..." that would be fastmail, as someone mentioned, not gmail.
I've got 200MB of fast webmail with way better spam filtering, though the search is folder-by-folder. "We need more of this"?
-Another of their 400k customers. Blog link is to FM's blog, not mine.

on April 18, 2004 10:23 PM
# Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. said:

Speaking as someone who has somehow fallen into a Gmail beta account, I heartily concur with you, Jeremy. It's amazing to me how many people have written to me since I started blogging my reviews of/experiences with Gmail, asking me whether I can please get them a Gmail beta account.

"Why???" I am moved to ask.

Yeah, the search ability is nifty, but ...well..it's a free webmail account. Ya know? With a couple of interesting hooks into you which other free webmail providers don't require.


on April 18, 2004 10:32 PM
# Justin Mason said:

Hi Jeremy --

I've been proselytising this all over the place. The really good innovation of GMail, IMO, is the "save, not delete" approach -- whereby all mail (unless you explicitly choose otherwise) is saved for context, and this context can be displayed from the message view at one click. In other words, "deleted" mail is still accessible, so you no longer need to archive off, or leave messages lying around, just in case they'll be useful in future.

That's a really cool feature.

I'm mostly excited because I hope more UNIX MUAs will start to take cues from this. ;)

It also has some very nice UI features; such as a "reply textbox" right at the bottom of the message display, so replying to a mail doesn't even require a click, just enter the textbox and start typing! nice.

However I'm not convinced of the "vfolder, not folder" approach; and I'd prefer a more webbish UI instead of the DHTML stuff.

on April 18, 2004 10:45 PM
# gmt said:

I am a paying Fastmail.fm user too ($19.95/yr for 50MB
storage plus POP/IMAP/SMTP and more), it's a great service
with clueful admins, blog and all. However, I use it only
as a reliable POP/IMAP mail delivery service. I don't use
their web UI, which is no better than Yahoo's, and it
is definitely not usable on a daily basis for regular

I used to download all my mail from Fastmail and
then use mutt. I've found Gmail to be equally

I will probably keep the paid fastmail account around,
as a good backup, but I am switching to gmail for
all my regular mail. The UI, storage, organization,
search, and price are a good enough combo for me.
The only things I would want are mail/contact export
for local backups, and more automatic labelling/filtering.

on April 18, 2004 11:03 PM
# Ceilig said:

I think all the people getting excited about this weren't around when the PC wowed us by finally letting us have our stuff on our own computer, instead of on a mainframe. ;)

I do like Google, though. I think they've done pretty well growing a company that doesn't suck as bad as some of the other popular web companies. I don't think they should be blamed for people going nuts over something they thought up. ;)

I think one thing the "experts" are missing is that, while this is nothing new for them, most people are not really good at using computers. They are actually using web-based email services that really have awful horrible interfaces and do not have all the features you are used to having and enjoying.

You are not their target costumer. ;)

It's a lot like my cell phone. I have a TMobile Sidekick (actually the Danger Hiptop, repackaged). People either love it or hate it. It hardly has any minutes at all (just 200!) so anyone who uses a lot of minutes htink it's just the dumbest thing ever. I, however, hate talking on phones. I want one for emergencies, or quick 5 minute conversations at the grocery store ("Do we need milk?"). But I like the other features of the sidekick -- internet browsing, email, AIM, simple address book, simple notes feature, etc. (heck it even does SSH!). I don't want a full PDA. I used to carry a phone, a PDA, and a 2-way pager. Now I just carry this thing and the monthy charges are just half what I paid before. Good for me. :) I'm their target. But other people, say people who don't care about AIM or need 20,000 minutes, or people who want to run Excel on their PDA aren't their target.

So, same with Gmail. It's targeted at my mother-in-law or my husband's grandfather. They are not going to use a collection of command line tools on UNIX, like someone suggested earlier. ;)

on April 19, 2004 10:09 AM
# Ahmad Alhashemi said:

If you ask someone who is using Hotmail: how much more space you think you need? He would probably think that 100MB is really more than enough.

But when you tell him he will be given 1GB of space, he will start thinking of a web mail account in a different way. And that is what is innovative behind it.

It is not about more space to make it more comfartable. It is about much more space to make a different thing.

on April 19, 2004 04:00 PM
# Lucas Carlson said:

You CAN filter Google's adsense ads.

on April 19, 2004 04:48 PM
# H Locealoyx said:

O'Reilly do owns Google stock, may make million fron initia public offering.

on April 19, 2004 06:26 PM
# cyberhill said:

Half the planet says "This is the greatest program ever!", the other half says "GMail sucks!"

Have you noticed like me that the people who say it sucks and are bitching about privacy issues haven't got beta accounts? Sure, there are some privacy issues that are valid - like Google being able to build a profile of your habits etc, but most other companies ask you for this information before they even give you an account!

on April 19, 2004 09:44 PM
# Danny said:

The obvious difference between a domestic cat and a tiger is one of size, but if you keep the latter as a pet you might notice a qualitative difference around other pets and small children.

But I'm not sure we should be cheering the move from Microsoft's distributed desktop stronghold to Google's centralized server farm. Certainly I think there's a role for big searchable stores, but this particular case could herald a monopoly just as dangerous as MS's.

on April 20, 2004 02:10 PM
# pb said:

I think it's most interesting in thinking about waht might be next. What if Google did Craiglist? What if Google made Usenet better or did Yahoo Groups? Could Google do eBay? How about monster.com, Citysearch, Match, TVGuide, instant messaging, etc. But not as a portal, Yahoo-style.

on April 20, 2004 03:13 PM
# Kevin Fox said:

I think the saddest thing about this commentary is Dave Weiner's social profiteering. Always one to deride Google whenever the opportunity arises (or even when there isn't an opportunity) Dave was irritated by Tim O'Reilly's assessment of Gmail, so he links to this post, driving far more traffic to the post than Jeremy's standard formidable traffic.

After seeing his review attacked by someone who hasn't even used the software, Tim steps in and answers the criticism.

Now, nearly a week after the original post, Dave decides to disingeneously jab at Tim O'Reilly, Tim O'Reilly for christ's sake, trying to dismiss everything Tim has to say by quoting out of context, "I do own a small amount of Google stock."

For shame, Dave Weiner. For shame. Each time you deride Google (and me, as an employee), do you disclose that you are a competitor? Do you wear your bias on your sleeve? Or is it all that you can do to make potshots?

If you're going to potshot, don't do it by manipulating blogs like Jeremy's, or seeking to slander luminaries like Tim. They're both out of your league. If you want to keep slander as your weapon of choice, bring it to me.

on April 20, 2004 07:26 PM
# Kevin Fox said:

Oh, and Dave, I apologize in advance for misspelling your name. That was an accident, not a slander. I'm simply not that subtle.

on April 20, 2004 07:28 PM
# Dave Winer said:

I assume everyone who reads my blog knows that I made blogging software, in the past. And I haven't worked at UserLand since June 2002, almost two years. If you really think they don't know, just say the word, and I'll post another disclaimer.

on April 20, 2004 08:05 PM
# Dave Winer said:

BTW, that he has Google stock was news, the rest of Tim's post wasn't. I pointed to it today because I read it today. Sorry I didn't catch it sooner, I was pretty busy the last few days.

on April 20, 2004 08:09 PM
# John Walker said:

Dave Winer,

As an avid fan, I must say that you have always been one to point out any Google point of interest since they chose to acquire Blogger.com. I love you, but this point is not lost on all of us.

on April 20, 2004 11:11 PM
# Anon said:

See http://www.userland.com/aboutUserLand, which lists Dave Winer as Chairman and founder of Userland Software, Inc.

It is specious for Winer to disavow any competitive interest based on not being directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of Userland. He is still Chairman of the company (for which he is presumably compensated) and, as Founder, he is likely a significant (if not majority) share-holder.

Plus, it is almost certain Winer holds a much larger percentage of Userland stock than O'Reilly holds of Google stock.

on April 21, 2004 04:51 AM
# Bill Brown said:

Bravo, Kevin. I was just about to comment on the same thing. Winer took O'Reilly's quote completely out of its context. It was obvious after reading O'Reilly's comment that he got his Google stock from the purchase of Blogger. He probably didn't own too much Blogger stock as it was since he came pretty late in the game. His Google shares are probably pretty diluted since Google had so much venture financing.

Not only has Winer consistently bedeviled Google like a jilted lover (as he was, if you look at the change in demeanor post-Blogger buyout), he's also been a detractor of O'Reilly. It came to the fore when O'Reilly had an invitation-only event and had the audacity to not beg Winer to come. If I remember correctly, there was also some bad blood surrounding the Amazon patent fracas as well.

on April 21, 2004 06:19 AM
# Dave Winer said:

I don't draw a salary from UserLand, and I have no role in the management of the company. I do own a lot of stock, but I'm pretty sure Tim's Google stock is worth a lot more than my UserLand stock is. :-(

on April 21, 2004 06:26 AM
# Al Anderson said:

So is GMail out of beta yet?

on December 21, 2004 06:58 AM
# Adam Boettiger said:

We all suffer from information overload.

I publish a newsletter and wrote an article this week on a technique that I use Gmail for to keep track of ideas, information, resources, URLs, snippets of code and information from discussion lists, etc. I think you'll find it interesting and useful. If so, please feel free to link to or forward the URL internally at your company.

See: http://www.digitalocean.cc/archives/information_management.html

Happy New Year!

Adam Boettiger

on January 1, 2005 02:48 AM
# tagno25 said:

Have you forgoten the conversation veiw, RSS, 2000+ MB, auto sort, and gmail notifyer?

on May 22, 2005 07:20 PM
# Shravan said:

I agree with you Jeremy, Gmail sucks. The only advantage I see it having is the 2.6GB of space, however, it'll take ages for me tofill it up. The way I see it, Gmail is not as user friendly as MS Outlook or Eudora. Also, it's a little confusing, especially if you're used to yahoo mail or hotmail.

on October 22, 2005 04:52 PM
# Damien said:

Best email client ever. I think the author's point is that it works very well. Better than most. More space, faster, etc.. All those "minor" things add up to a seamless experience. I have yet to find such a useful and reliable email system. GO GOOGLE.

on June 7, 2008 07:27 AM
# mukesh said:

1. Log into your Gmail account with your username and password.
2. Open the mail.
3. To display the email headers,
* Click on the inverted triangle beside Reply. Select Show Orginal.
4. You may copy the headers and use my IP address detection script to ease the process. Or if you want to manually find the IP address, proceed to 5.
5. Look for Received: from followed by the IP address between square brackets [ ].

Received: from [] by web31804.mail.mud.yahoo.com

6. If you find more than one Received: from patterns, select the last one.
7. Track the IP address of the sender
you can get the ip address from http://www.ip-details.com/

on July 23, 2009 05:23 AM
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