My plan was in place. When Google announced they were dropping Active Sync support for Windows Phone as part of their ‘winter cleaning’, my wheels began to spin on how to move on from Gmail. Particularly now that there is Outlook.com, I saw no reason I would need Gmail moving forward. As I evaluated my tech arsenal, what stood out most importantly was that I now used Windows Phone 1st and Android sparingly. Add to that my increasing use of Skydrive, OneNote, Surface RT and decreasing use of my iPad, I was firmly positioned to view Google’s email in my rear view mirror. That was until last Friday.
During the Gillmor Gang, Robert Scoble did one of his customary (and mostly fascinating) camera turns to give us a glimpse into his desktop world. It’s always a flurry of activity with Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus mainly flowing like a busted dam of real time feeds and streams. This time however, he focused on his Gmail and went on to widen my eyes and blow my mind. I was riveted as he talked about Smart Labels that you could turn on in Gmail’s settings.With one click would add an elaborate set of mail filters that tame email’s biggest chores… Wading through Promotions (Best Buy coupons and those of their ilk), Social Updates (Twitter/Facebook activities), and Notifications (automated emails). Stuff that’s not necessarily spam, but not something you would mostly deem important. From there I went into my own Gmail and in minutes, for the first time since having my Gmail account, my inbox was finally manageable. I have never been able to confess that. I went from a mess of 22,000+ unread emails to now only having 5. Along with that, some long overdue semblance of organization with my email.
Now when I go into my Gmail, rather than a sea of 1 day sales and Twitter reply notifications, I see only emails I want to see in my Inbox. Everything else goes into labels that were created when I turned on Smart Labels.
129 Promotions and 66 Notifications from today alone. A welcome sight to no longer see them cluttering my Inbox. So while this gave my email new life, I am back to my original conundrum. With Google dropping Active Sync on Windows Phone as well as Windows 8 (They have decided to start a pissing match with Microsoft over the Scroogled Bing campaign IMO), I am back stepping my original idea of moving to Outlook.com. While it’s a more than adequate email solution that would play nice with my Lumia 920, the power of Gmail is too tough to just walk away from. The one consolation I have is that existing devices would continue to work. If I reset my Windows Phone or Surface or when I buy a new Windows Phone, at this very moment I will be hosed. I will likely forward my Gmail to Outlook.com so that I can receive on my Lumia 920, but calendar and contacts are still a mystery as to how I will manage on my phone. For now, I will rejoice in email management bliss.
Between tech companies fighting and Terms of Service PR snafus (Instagram anyone?), it brings to light the implications of free stuff and puts in the spotlight the bottom line that customers/users are afterthoughts and lower priority when we’re not paying for it.