Google Takes No Prisoners - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
10/24/2007
05:41 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Takes No Prisoners

Google today began giving its Gmail users access to IMAP, an e-mail protocol that allows users to synchronize their e-mail across multiple devices. While Google's announcement is likely to be appreciated by users of Apple's iPhone (which supports IMAP) and business users, what's particularly noteworthy about the news is how Keith Coleman, Gmail product manager, describes Google's intentions.

Google today began giving its Gmail users access to IMAP, an e-mail protocol that allows users to synchronize their e-mail across multiple devices.

While Google's announcement is likely to be appreciated by users of Apple's iPhone (which supports IMAP) and business users, what's particularly noteworthy about the news is how Keith Coleman, Gmail product manager, describes Google's intentions."One of our core philosophies at Google is we don't want our users' data ever to be held hostage," Coleman said in a phone interview. "We want them to be able to take their data and do whatever it is they want to do with it. In the case of e-mail, that means taking their contacts to various devices, accessing their e-mail from any device or any e-mail client that they choose."

Google CEO Eric Schmidt voiced similar sentiments earlier this year. Apparently, his thoughts have become corporate talking points.

Google, in other words, is serious about not holding its users' data hostage. Think about that for a moment. It's not a common sentiment in an industry that has traditionally profited from imprisoning user data. Consider how for years mobile phone companies lobbied to prevent customers from being able to move their mobile phone numbers to competing mobile service providers.

"We started down that path in 2004 soon after launch, where we gave everyone free POP access and free auto-forwarding," Coleman continued. "POP is nice because it lets you download your mail to clients. Forwarding is nice because you can forward certain important messages to your mobile phone. You can even switch away from Gmail to another e-mail service really easily, if you want to do that."

It takes a big company -- big in the sense of confidence rather than revenue -- to give customers the freedom to walk away. Application users seeking escape from vendor lock-in typically have to look to competing vendors for the tools to free their data. Google's message is you're free to go.

Of course, the fact that between July 2006 and July 2007 Google's Gmail service saw its share of unique visitors in the United States grow by 79% -- compared with 6% and 2% growth posted by Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Hotmail -- according to comScore, makes it easy to be magnanimous.

And Gmail's growth is accelerating. ComScore figures indicate that between September 2006 and September 2007, the number of unique Gmail visitors in the U.S. grew by 93%. Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Hotmail, which can boast over four times and two times more unique visitors last month than Gmail, respectively, grew only 7% and 0%.

Perhaps word has gotten out that Google takes no prisoners, so to speak.

Does Google fully live up to this aspiration across its entire product line? Not quite, but almost, as Google's Matt Cutts documented in a March blog post.

That's pretty cool.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
Gartner Forecast Sees 7.3% Shrinkage in IT Spending for 2020
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  7/15/2020
Slideshows
10 Ways AI Is Transforming Enterprise Software
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  7/13/2020
Commentary
IT Career Paths You May Not Have Considered
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/30/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Key to Cloud Success: The Right Management
This IT Trend highlights some of the steps IT teams can take to keep their cloud environments running in a safe, efficient manner.
Slideshows
Flash Poll