Now maybe I'm missing something here. And if I am, I hope a Gmail tester or two will set me straight (I have not had the time I'd like to play with it, but I have heard from a few of those who have). Let me recount the "innovations" from Google's Gmail as I've heard them:
Giving users a lot of space. Okay, this isn't rocket surgery. Disks have been getting cheaper for a long time now. Do you honestly expect to see other large (and even mid-tier) web mail providers not increasing their offerings to match or surpass those of Gmail? It seems like a no-brainer to me. Proving virtual folders, conversations, search-based message lists, or whatever you want to call them. So we've got threading (not new) plus virtual folders (not new) in a single mail interface. Well, stop the presses! It's amazing to think that no mail clients have offered this functionality in the last 5-7 years! Oh, wait. They have. Adding context-sensitive ads to your mail. Yippie! I'm gonna switch right away so I can start seeing SPAM that I cannot filter even in my previously non-spam mail. Sign me up! Yup. I've come up with three things. Did I miss something? I must have, because Tim's convinced that this is very, very important but I'm just not seeing it.
I mean, it "turns everything on its head" right?
It feels very incremental to me, but this is supposed to be part of the big Internet OS In The Sky (the drum Tim's been beating for a few years now), but I haven't seen the API yet. Or the new services they're offering. Or a version that works in the [modern] browser I use.
Can we please tone down the hype a few notches and get back to thinking about services that actually offer something remarkable and innovative? Something with an API. And if we're going to beat the Internet OS drum some more, how about something that actually fits into what one might think of as an infrastructure service rather than an end-user application? I think the reality lies somewhere in between. What Google's Gmail has done is made people think about what can be - there's still a long way to go for that world to become a reality. But it surely sets us all thinking about the world of tomorrow.