When is gmail (or, as we must probably call it forthwith, googlemail) going public? I’ve had a gmail account since forever – being a Blogger has its advantages, no doubt. But it’s still invite only. I mean, it’s not hard to get an invite – hell, throw a brick and you hit two googlemail invites rushing at you – but it does seem an odd strategy. It presents googlemail as something for those in the know, those in the loop. It’s also obvious to those inside that it’s anything but. You want a googlemail account? Gimme your normal, boring, standard email address and watch the invites rush in.
So the air of exclusivity gives them cachet from outside, but the apparent lack of it inside devalues the scrabble to get the address. They don’t need this, googlemail is good enough without cheap lifestyle tricks.
It should be open, like lesser mail services. Like Hotmail, which was my first email account just at the very second it was bought by Microsoft. I felt like I’d established some presence on the internet – without anyone having to bring me in from the cold, I was an adventurer setting out with 2mb of inbox and an address with a number in it. Google is stifling that frontier spirit with its “Others have it, and only they can give it to you”.
Or, you know, maybe they don’t want spammers getting googlemail accounts. But if just one spammer gets googlemail, it’ll replicate like a virus. So why bother? I can’t see a single effective argument for keeping it invite-only. And I can’t stand typing googlemail.
Anyway, like I say. You want gmail? Ask. For now.