Why don’t I like web based email? Speed, or rather lack of it.
Why do I like GMail? Speed.
Forget the features, space, etc, the reason I will use GMail is because it is super fast. We all know that is why google succeeded, and that is why GMail (in my opinion) will blow away Hotmail in the next few years.
So here’s some things I’d like to see:
1. Corporate GMail accounts
I’d like to be able to setup all my company’s accounts on GMail, have central administrator privileges over them, easily add new users etc. Perhaps firstname.lastname@example.org format. All the priviliges I have as an Exchange administrator.
I think we’d see many companies moving from Outlook/Exchange based infrastructure to a totally web based approach.
I know we’ve got web based Outlook, but it is too slow.
2. Folder sharing
I’d like to be able to share my GMail folder with other GMail users, perhaps based on labels ie share label X with other people in my contacts list. Following on from my earlier point, perhaps these labels and privileges could be managed by an administrator.
3. Inbuilt readers for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, PDF
I’d like to be able to read my GMail from any computer (eg an internet cafe, friend’s linux machine, Mac) and not worry about having any Office apps etc installed. Rather GMail just converts an attachment to HTML automatically. (99% of my use of attachements is read only, I very rarely update them and send them back.)
The main issue with all this is security. We don’t want to have sensitive documents sitting on a google server somewhere do we? Me, I don’t really think it matters. I know a lot of people who already forward sensitive emails to their personal web based accounts, and there is no way a corporate IT department is ever going to stop it. I mean, we have to send sensitive documents to client’s Hotmail accounts all the time.
So, the issue is about formalising it. We would be formally saying that all our emails, sensitive or not are going to be on a google server. Not a problem for me.
And in fact, probably I’d be more secure with them housing the emails than some of the companies I’ve dealt with. Companies who have their email servers easily exposed to the internet with seriously outdated servers, way behind in security patches and the like. For them, moving to a google solution would be a step up.
Outlook’s other features
Outlook has so many great features, it would be impossible to replicate them on a GMail setting. Fair point. I’ve yet to see a web based calendaring function that is anywhere near as good as Outlook’s desktop one.
What about contacts though? It should be easy enough to set up contacts in GMail with the same ease of Outlook. Perhaps google will provide a nice little Outlook sync tool for uploading contacts. Tasks? No reason why they can’t be GMail based. Notes, same thing.
GMail has a gig, but that is not really enough for a long term user. After all, most of us tend to have multi-gigabyte Outlook folders after a while. Hopefully GMail will provide upgrade options.
I can only assume GMail has good backup and redundancy procedures in place. Or if they don’t then perhaps an option to provide it as part of a corporate package.
So, returning to my point: speed.
None of these ideas are particularly new, it is just that even if they do exist on some web based email options (ie Outlook web access), no one considers them a viable option because they are much slower than using a desktop app. GMail is all about speed and finally gives us this as a real option.