This is a very small complaint, so I apologise for taking your time with it, but it exemplifies something that used to make a lot of Google products really annoying and limited the company’s growth potential–something that, thankfully, Google has gotten a lot better about in recent years.
For more than a decade, I was a devoted user of Yahoo Mail, which was by far the best web-based email system. Then, over the years, as Yahoo’s management got distracted by a revolving door of senior executives, the product first lost its edge and then, eventually, began to become flaky.
Eventually, after posting several posts warning about what would happen to the company if it didn’t fix the problems (it would lose me as a customer!*), I was forced to switch to Gmail.
This switch was a vote against Yahoo, not a vote for Gmail. Because, in those days, Gmail forced users to use a highly annoying “new-and-improved” email format called “conversations.” I understood that many Gmail users who are younger, smarter, and cooler than I am LOVED the “conversations” format and thought that anyone who didn’t (me) was an idiot. But that didn’t make me like “conversations” any better.
Fortunately, eventually, my dinosaur ranting penetrated the walls of the Googleplex and Google added a “normal email” option for idiot fogies like me. That was a vast improvement, one I greatly appreciated. And it also signified the awakening of Google to the wants and desires of the Great Unwashed Consumer market, which, it turns out, is vastly larger than the tech-elite.
(Apple figured out how huge and powerful this market is decades ago, which is why it has so embarrassed the rest of the tech industry with its consumer dominance).
Anyway, Google is a much better consumer company than it was a few years ago, but vestiges of the old “we know better” approach remain.
One of the annoying features of Gmail that still remains is a filter that excludes you from receiving an email that you send to an email list that you’re also on.
Apparently, somewhere along the line, someone at Google decided this was really cool and efficient and helpful–you don’t need to receive that email because you wrote it so you already know what it says!
And I’m sure some people who are cooler and smarter than I am do think that’s cool.
But I don’t.
I think it’s annoying.
Because I never know whether the email I sent to a list–say, everyone at the company–has actually been received, and, if so, when.
So I actually have to verbally ask my colleagues: “Did you get that email I sent?”
To which my colleagues usually say, “Yes,” while quietly thinking, “Is he a complete moron? Of course I got the email. He just sent it!”
So I wish that Google would just allow me to receive the emails that I send to myself when I’m on lists I send emails to, instead of trying to improve my life in a way that actually makes it more difficult.
And, more broadly, for the sake of consumers worldwide, I hope that Google continues to get better and better at serving the Great Unwashed Consumers like me. Because Apple is just becoming ungodly rich and powerful these days. And we need companies rich and talented and smart enough to challenge Apple by providing products that are just better. Otherwise, we’re all going to get imprisoned in the hellish jails of monopoly-land again.
* And, more importantly, it would lose the glue–email–that produced most of its pageviews and drove traffic to the rest of its content.
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