“As of this week, Gmail has reached perfection: You no longer have to be online to read or write messages.”
Fahrad Manjoo, I’m sorry, but you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about and I don’t think Slate should be paying you to write articles for them. Why the glowing praise here in the opening line of your ridiculously titled article? Why? Link-baiting of course. You want people to reply to it and link to it and it to be featured on Techmeme (like it was). That’s great traffic tactics for Slate, but it’s absolutely horrendous reporting.
Even Google themselves don’t think that Gmail has reached perfection. How do I know this? Well, the Beta stamp on the platform is the first big clue. Even then, if you look at how they’ve released the Gmail Offline feature, it’s not in the main trunk of the software. It’s in Google Labs, a little sanctioned area of test code where Google notes:
“None of these features are really ready for prime time yet, so they may change, break or disappear at any time.”
After a day of trying to use Gmail Offline, I myself had to turn it off, because in my home office where my computer was consistently connected to the internet Gmail Offline kept second guessing my connectivity. I kept receiving “Still working…” messages when I was trying to do simple things like send emails or switch from one folder to another in Gmail. Outlook killer? Hardly.
Meanwhile, while the addition of in-browser offline Gmail access is a cool idea, because it preserves the Gmail experience while one is offline the way fans of Gmail like to experience Gmail, it’s nothing really revolutionary or threatening to Outlook. Outlook is desktop email software that does a fairly good job of organizing email and a large number of people—and more importantly, a large number of businesses—are already entrenched and trained in its usage. Gmail’s email market share while particularly high amongst heavy internet users still isn’t anything large and that won’t suddenly change because of offline availability.
How do I know this to be true? Well, quite simply because Gmail has worked offline via both POP and IMAP with numerous desktop pieces of software, including Outlook, for years with no real negative impact on Outlook users using other email providers.
UPDATE: Haha, I just spotted Ted’s post about this. Excellent title.