Gmail: My sole email hub
There’s been a lot written about Gmail (Google Gets the Message, Launches Gmail) since its launch and it was amusing to be aware of the mad scramble to obtain a Gmail account when it was first announced in spring of 2004 (ebay auctions; people begging). Luckily I knew an alpha male with a lot of Silicon Valley contacts and he had a few leftover Gmail invites and sent me one.
After playing with it for awhile, I made a fundamental leap: I decided to consolidate my other four email accounts (one I’ve had since 1997) and use Gmail as my one-and-only email account — even though it is still in public beta.
The benefits are tremendous. Though I use my Powermac and Powerbook as primary machines at home, I use my ThinkPad at work and, of course, any machine I can grab anywhere I happen to be so as to view and send email. It’s become a pleasure to once again use email (and for some reason it parses better and looks more attractive in a browser vs. in my preview pane in Thunderbird or Entourage). In addition, it’s always been a pain in the butt to check/download an email to, say, my Powerbook and then later want it from my Powermac or other machine in some other part of the house. Not an issue anymore.
Having one sole email hub is important for me. In the late eighties to the mid-nineties I used a Compuserve address (and it’s scary I still remember it: email@example.com!) and it was incredibly painful to inform everyone I’d changed it when I signed up for my own domain and had a new email address. I then experienced having people track me down (sometimes years later) to then tell me that the Compuserve address was the only one they had and some people were upset they couldn’t find me (though how tough is it to find a Steve Borsch in Minnesota?). Never again. Since Gmail is free, if I opt to change at some point it’ll be a lot easier to run concurrent systems.
But relying on one email hub may not be an issue for me. Google has made it simple to use Gmail as a primary hub (POP3 access and they’re working on sending via POP3 thick clients on your computer) and they’re clearly doing what they can to make Gmail a hub people are ready, willing and interested in using. In fact, I’ve thought about how cool it would/could be if they married their translation capability (e.g., when a non-English page appears when searching on Google, you may have noticed a “translate this page” link after it) with Gmail and have email sent from non-English speakers automatically translated!
Based upon how well it works right now in beta, I’ll bet it’ll be available publically very soon.