Like Doc Searls did in public, we talked at the office about Google's new managed searchable email service GMail as an aprils fool prank - but I did a quick harddisk price computation and figured that the kings of terabyte text handling could probably handle a gig of email per customer also at very low cost. But Doc Searls got to be the guy who publicly fell for the realprank: Which was publishing a real but unbelievabe story on April 1st. There's no question it was a setup either: The press release is informal and tongue in cheek (who writes "Heck, Yeah." in press release titles) so there's no question this was an inverted prank and extremely good PR work. Go to Shellen.com for the insider story and screenshots. They seem to include Google Groups style message threading for your GMail.
On a more serious note: GMail is interesting as an escalation in the Google/Microsoft battle for the desktop that is about to begin for real. Microsoft has been doing vaporware marketing for a new search engine for a long time now and GMail looks a lot like Google's counteroffensive. This is the battle of the PC and the 1000 developer rich app against the agile, serverside, modern language, network centric app. Or at least I think Tim O'Reilly would agree that it is.
Some technical things I want to know:
Does GMail interact with standard mail protocols så that I can integrate it into my usual mail applications: IMAP, POP, SMTP? (The FAQ currently says no - which is a shame)
Will the Google search and organisation services extending standard email be available via a web service interface for deeper integration with the desktop?
Posted by Claus at April 03, 2004 10:01 PM