Why Google wants to replace Gmail

Gmail represents a dying class of products that, like Google Reader, puts control in the hands of users, not signal-harvesting algorithms by Mike Elgan  .

I’m predicting that Google will end Gmail within the next five years. The company hasn’t announced such a move — nor would it.

But whether we like it or not, and whether even Google knows it or not, Gmail is doomed.

What is email, actually?

Email was created to serve as a “dumb pipe.” In mobile network parlance, a “dumb pipe” is when a carrier exists to simply transfer bits to and from the user, without the ability to add services and applications or serve as a “smart” gatekeeper between what the user sees and doesn’t see.

Carriers resist becoming “dumb pipes” because there’s no money in it. A pipe is a faceless commodity, valued only by reliability and speed. In such a market, margins sink to zero or below zero, and it becomes a horrible business to be in.

“Dumb pipes” are exactly what users want. They want the carriers to provide fast, reliable, cheap mobile data connectivity. Then, they want to get their apps, services and social products from, you know, the Internet.

Email is the “dumb pipe” version of communication technology, which is why it remains popular. The idea behind email is that it’s an unmediated communications medium. You send a message to someone. They get the message.

When people send you messages, they stack up in your in-box in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent ones on top.

Compare this with, say, Facebook, where you post a status update to your friends, and some tiny minority of them get it. Or, you send a message to someone on Facebook and the social network drops it into their “Other” folder, which hardly anyone ever checks.

Of course, email isn’t entirely unmediated. Spammers ruined that. We rely on Google’s “mediation” in determining what’s spam and what isn’t.

But still, at its core, email is by its very nature an unmediated communications medium, a “dumb pipe.” And that’s why people like email.

Read more at: Why Google wants to replace Gmail By Mike Elgan  

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One thought on “Why Google wants to replace Gmail

  1. Niraj Ranjan Rout (@nirajr) May 1, 2015 / 1:09 pm

    A very interesting post, and a bit scary too for the founder of a company built around Gmail (http://grexit.com)

    I can clearly see personal (non-business) communication fast being replaced by Facebook etc., and the communication inside organizations being increasingly done on platforms like asana or slack, but email is still tough to replace with communication that an organization does with people outside it. So I think when it comes to sales, marketing and customer support, emails is going to be very hard to replace.

    But I totally see your point behind why Google might want to do away with Gmail – many thanks for the perspective!

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