I have a been a member of the Google, and for that matter Gmail, fan club since it’s inception five years ago. Since that time I’ve taken a peculiar notice that most tech or “Internet savvy” people also reside on Gmail ave.
It could be the generous 7 gigs of free storage, or maybe the moderately intrusive and warily (sometimes) relevant blurbs that morph themselves into clickable text. Beckoning for a bite that will most likely end in an advertisement for some erectile dysfunction solution. I digress.
Truth be told, I’ve come to find Gmail the choice of the enlightened individual. There is something so antiquated about getting an email from a Yahoo or Hotmail user. Subconsciously I instantly discredit the sender, “tech illiterate” screams between my ears, and the hope for a non-prejudicial read is lost. Really, why would you delete an email when you can just archive that bad boy into the eternal abyss of Googleland where it can instantly be resurrected?
I recently searched “ Jay receipt January” and was amazed at the results. First off, an email from a threatened lawsuit for using a trademark as a keyword in my Google Adwords account…ummmm ooops (an empty threat and well within my rights actually J) Strangely enough, I was actually looking for a vet bill from when my dog got mangled by a mutt in the park. The algorithmic genius ads on the side sadly were for credit cards, and merchant solutions?
This made me ponder how DOES that Google business model work? I can confidently say I haven’t clicked on one of those ads in 4 years. Who exactly is sidebar surfing? Are they banking on curiosity, general interest?
Regardless, Gmail is an amazing tool for busy entrepreneurs like me, and it bothers me not in the least to know that Google is screening every email I send and receive only to glean patterns and habits, which will be fed into some giant computing mechanism designed to increase ad-sale revenue.
Gmail is free to me, that’s all I really care about.
When used daily in conjunction with my Blackberry (or iPhone—depending on my mood) Gmail is an incredibly powerful and efficient tool. It might be, single handedly, the most valuable tool in my proverbial entrepreneurial tool-belt.
I use Google contacts to manage my personal and business contacts. I use Google calendar and Google Docs almost exclusively. Combined with the new Google Sync, all of my email, contacts, and calendars sync in real time wirelessly to my PDA without ever having to worry about my data overwriting itself (like with Mac MobileMe for example).
I can be using my iPhone one day, get tired of the lousy touch screen and switch back to my BlackBerry Bold in minutes. Everything is synced wirelessly and the transition is seamless. I even use Gmail as my to-do list when I am on the go. I simply email myself anything I want to get done and there it is in my inbox. I can archive it and retrieve it at any time by simply searching for it since it never deletes any emails, I simply archive them.
I’ve developed a policy that an email never is archived without whatever action item in it being completed. If it is intended for someone else (Support for example) I simply forward the email and then archive it. I also make sure to transcribe any items that call for some sort of action into one of my two trust Rhodia notebooks before archiving the email. I am incredibly anal about my inbox. Any redundant notification emails are automatically archived up receipt so I never actually see them and don’t clog up my space.
My inbox is a sacred space to me. I respect it, it’s clean (like my house) and uncluttered. Everything in its place, exactly where I expect it to be. And fancy that! Good ole Gmail is providing the comfort of knowing it’s backed up for life.
It’s sort of staggering that you can have five, ten, or twenty years of emails available to you without ever having to worry about losing them. (or having paying for it for that matter). My Outlook, without fail, used to crash and wipe out all my emails at least once a year. For a measly $75 a year I bought an extra 40 GB (yes, GB!) of Gmail storage recently, which should last me another 10 years or so – at which point I will simply buy more.
Every time I have someone ask me to resend an email that they can’t find… I feel sorry for them. They just have not found Gmail Ave yet. They are lost sheep, and are most likely still using a PC. Not cool. (Actually quite sad.) But they will soon. Trust me.
I don’t even work for Google and I just spent 30 minutes writing a promotional article for them. But that’s the sign of a quality product that provides a lot of value, to a lot of people. Let’s be honest Google has become so ubiquitous with efficiency and service that it’s now a verb! “23rd president?” Google it!!!
This should give rise to a question: What value are you providing to yourself and others? If you’re not sure, take a look at your income–it’s a byproduct of the service you are providing to society. Google doesn’t even charge for its products, it lets people use them for free. And because they are so good, people keep coming back and sharing them. Google closed at $416 a share today. At one point Google stock crossed the $600/share threshold, bringing the company’s market capitalization to over $190 billion and making the company officially more valuable than FedEx, McDonalds, Coke, Intel, IBM, and Wal-Mart, among others.
I have learned a lot of lessons from Google. You might do consider taking notice as well. You should definitely start by getting a Gmail account at least.