Is gmail just a fashion statement?

I admit to having a gmail account of my own, just like most of you guys do. And I also admit to experiencing a substantially pleasurable mood when I did get my own gmail account. But now that I have it, I don’t really use it. At my bandwidth (or rather the lack of bandwidth), web mail is not usable for any professional or meaningful purpose. And considering that gmail does not offer an IMAP/POP interface for fetching mail, the only purpose I seem to have for my gmail account is to use it as a sort of online brief-case folder (like the one we had in Win95 before MS scrapped it).

I am also sure that most people have their own domain names and therefore their custom mail IDs, often having 200 MB to 2 GB of POP space, and for people who have their own servers on an ISP’s shared or unshared server rack, the POP limit is the free space on the hard disk partition containing the mail spool folder. So, why is it that people make such a big deal out of a gmail account? Yahoo upped their free mail space to 100 MB, and their paid Plus users have 2 GB of POP mail space now. Redif-India upped their free mailbox to 1 GB and paid users get 2 GB. But those sites don’t get the same kind of buzz that gmail does.

Here is what my friend and fellow-MVP Doctor Pavanaja had to say on gmail :-

What is so great about a gmail account? Is it the promised 1 GB mail box? Why should people be fascinated by some xyz@gmail.com account when they can have their own domain mails with POP access? I have my own domain, I can download the mails and keep them in my laptop, carry them around; read them in airports, while traveling in a flight etc. These are not possible with gmail. Every time, I have to be online to do anything with the mail.

So am I right in concluding that gmail is just a fashion statement? And a very strong one at that? Your thoughts on this are appreciated.

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27 thoughts on “Is gmail just a fashion statement?

  1. I have a GMail account. But I prefer using the POP3 account provided by my ISP for most purposes, because I am not very comfortable with webmail. And for certain mails, I already am using a free Yahoo! webmail account. I still have not figured out a use for my GMail account.

  2. There is a tool that allows you to access your gmail over a POP. I wrote about it in my blog at http://www.dotnetindia.com/2004/06/pop_ur_gmail.html

    And the cool thing about GMail is that it really has a lot of your offline mail reader facilities online. For people like who want to have mails online, so that I have access to info both at home and office, it is a wonderful thing to have 1 GB space.

  3. Hey Anand,

    Yup, I do admit that among webmail options, gmail is possibly Number-1, but for people who prefer POP access, gmail is not as useful as web media seems to project.

    I did like their thread based view for mails though πŸ™‚

  4. They made it semi-exclusive, hard to get. Thus it makes people think that it’ll be usefull, thus people go to the ends of the earth to get one. And when other people see these people going OTT over it, they think the same and go OTT trying to get their own to try and see why the first people were going OTT.
    It’s mostly the same with invite only web-communities like Orkut and Wallop. In the real world the similarities are with hyped up films like Harry Potter and Star Wars, in reality they arn’t as good as the media make them seem. People then rush to see it, creating those ‘Box Office’ figures that make the film look popular, when in fact a lot of those people may have not liked it.

    This is advertising, it’s stupid but it works. Google will be making a nice profit on this, and if they arn’t they would be stupid.

  5. I wouldn’t mind having one, but I’m not gonna beg for it. I think its more of a fashion statement more than anything else. I have more than a gig (unlimited to be exact πŸ™‚ ) at bestsnowman.com so its not like I need the extra space.

  6. Hey Rick

    I am not denying that gmail has its definite pluses, but the hype that’s built up around it is certainly extremely exagerrated!

  7. Personally, it doesn’t matter to me if gmail has pop3 access. I don’t really use email clients like Outlook to download my emails. I think it is just a preference thing. πŸ™‚

  8. I got one too !! But, I was more interested in their algorithm which places text ads based on the mail content, so far its been interesting πŸ™‚
    I guess, like many other products, its version 1 and is in beta. I’m sure they knew what they are up against and are aware that just the space alone won’t pull people. I think they would be adding lot of interesting options in future. The most impressive part is the way they handle keyboard, its really cool, I’m happy so far πŸ™‚

  9. Well, I for one is planning to put all my archives (CDs of them) from way back to my first mails into gmail. and have my own private google powered archive πŸ™‚

    raj

  10. As far as the fashion statement part of it is concerned,its the exclusivity of it thats got people to go crazy.. anyway rediffmail has given 1 GB space for free accounts and 2 GB for paid accounts.So if the space is only reason that people are hankering after GMail then that reason is no longer valid..so may be its the invite only option that adds to the value of geek Snobbery and sour grapes feeling to those that havent got it(includes me..) πŸ™‚

  11. I think they wud incrementally add features to it and we know that they wud integrate the core competence viz the searching infrastructure to the email.They also give an API to access all those features.So I guess it not a fashion statement.

  12. I’ve been using Gmail for 2 or 3 months now as my personal e-mail, and I wish we could buy a “Gmail appliance” for work – the interface is quick, and in my opinion preferable to my work e-mail client, Thunderbird, which I use with a local IMAP server. Thunderbird/my IMAP server is unbearably slow searching messages – no such problem with Gmail. I’d pay for it if they started charging. Your mileage may vary.

  13. The 1 GB of space is nice, but my Yahoo! now has 100MB and I had plenty of space there. For me though, I really like 3 things about GMail 1.) The way it group your e-mails into conversations, 2.) labels instead of folders (you can put 5 different labels on 1 e-mail, for instance) and 3.) You can do a Google search through your emails. I, too, plan on importing my e-mail archives all into my Gmail account.

  14. Feh! You could say exactly the same about the iPod, with just as much justification. In both cases geek hipsters (if there are such things) have inflated the desirability value of an item to silly levels, but both are sleek, well designed, user friendly and ahead of their competitors in functionality.

    The webspace is handy but what makes it useful is the ability to quickly sort, search and group your email. I’m hoping Google give users more control of conversations, but the concepts they’ve shown so far are brilliant. No I don’t work for them πŸ™‚

  15. I have been using it for over a couple of months now. Its been good..the webmail features, the keyboard features, the look and feel to have conversations listed together. But then i think i have been using my Yahoo accounts much more just ‘cos they have been there for quiet sometime. I would say its a personal preference for ppl to make it a fashion statement or to make use of space.But like Chris above said..its free and has 1GB space..am sure somewhere down the line ppl will want to have this kinda mail account available..

  16. I don’t have a Gmail account and I’m still smiling πŸ™‚
    I live on a boat and don’t have web access except at work.
    At work I can save email to a pst file and take home on my memory chip
    and load into the laptop.

    Gmail is just junk mail to me.

    Cheers,
    Ozzie.

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