Google Mail gets its missing piece

Google has just announced an offline client for Google Mail, with the option of background synchronization.  Even though this is just at the Google Labs stage for now, it's potentially huge, for several reasons:

  • Anybody who uses Google Mail and doesn't have an offline client should get this just for backup.

  • Anybody who uses Google Mail and doesn't have a regular offline client might want to consider this for responsiveness.
  • Anybody who use Eudora (as I do) or Thunderbird to access Google Mail is likely going to be facing a client switch some day; this could be the new one.
  • Most businesses should be using Google Mail.
  • Fred Wilson is right; people should retain lots of mail. And Google is good at searching large numbers of documents.

I'm not saying you should use this product today. It's early days, and Google hasn't really aced mail search yet anyway.  And that's what it's all about. Assuming you have performance, reliability, WYSIWYG editing, and all that, the biggest difference among mail clients is mail findability.  I've long favored Eudora for that feature set, but it has a drawback shared by most email providers other than Google -- it relies on messages going into single folders.  Google's search/tagging-centric paradigm is ultimately superior. 

Actually, there's one group of folks who should run-not-walk to indeed adopt this client today, namely those who don't have any other offline backup system. Google Mail has outages.  It locks people out of their mailboxes for odd reasons. Google is not obligated to keep all your mail forever anyway.  You really need to copy your mail offline in some way, and if you're not doing it otherwise, this new client seems like the ticket.

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