Google Snapshot Thursday, Mar 4 2010 

A very interesting snapshot of Google can be found here. Notice that Orkut is nearly as big as Gmail in number of users considering it doesn’t get much attention in the U.S. Worth a glance if you want a good picture of just how big Google is today.

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Google Cheat Sheets Tuesday, Jul 14 2009 

Here are some handy cheat sheets to enhance your Google experience. I found the first one – Google Cheat Sheets – to be the most useful.

Twitter = E-mail? What? Wednesday, Mar 4 2009 

During a fireside chat with Mary Meeker at Morgan Stanley’s tech conference, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: “Speaking as a computer scientist, I view all of these as sort of poor man’s email systems” when discussing Twitter.

He’s wrong, but this is what executives do when there are discussing potential competing technologies. Especially when executives are talking about companies that speculation says they might acquire someday. Unfortunately, he stated he was speaking as a computer scientist.

Twitter has a completely different value proposition than e-mail. Twitter is micro-blogging. It is a conversation tool. It is a community and social networking site. Twitter is not e-mail.

Mike Gotta blogged about Twitter compared to IM, e-mail and forums two days ago. I can’t state it any better than Mike. I guess Mr. Schmidt doesn’t read Mike’s blog.

Microsoft’s Live@edu – Winning Over the College Crowd Wednesday, Feb 25 2009 

Microsoft continues its effort to win over the college crowd with Microsoft Live@edu. The University of Colorado announced that is is switching from Mirapoint to Live@edu. The main attraction? It’s hosted and free.

What is the benefit to Microsoft? There are two primary benefits:

1. This is a strategic method Microsoft has used for many years – capture the next generation workforce as end users before they enter the workforce. I remember my university switching from WordPerfect to Microsoft Office in the early 90s because Microsoft gave the university a fantastic deal.

2. Microsoft needs to rapidly build its experience and capabilities around hosted e-mail on a mass scale in a more enterprise-like environment. Google is gaining traction in the small and medium business markets with Gmail and poses a potential future threat as a competitor for future enterprise hosted e-mail. The university environment is an excellent place to gain this experience with less risk.

The New Gmail Task Management Wednesday, Dec 10 2008 

Being a fan of David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done), the task management capabilities of e-mail are a necessity for me. In the perpetual Gmail beta, task management or the to-do list has been sorely missing. Posted Monday in The Official Gmail Blog, the Gmail team shared the details of the addition of this feature. The lack of task management in Gmail has been one of the key missing features for enterprise class e-mail solution.

Gmail’s first iteration of task management is pretty “lightweight” – as described by the Gmail team in their blog. Once it is enabled (through Settings), a link is provided in the left hand column called “Tasks.” Clicking the link opens a task list window in the lower right hand corner. If you click the arrow in the upper right hand corner, it opens the list in a separate browser window as a pop-out. This is how I prefer to use it at the moment, although I am still trying things out.

Tasks are created by simply typing and hitting enter. You can indent (to create a visual sub-task), move up and down, and add details (such as a due date).

The most useful feature is the ability to convert e-mails to tasks. Select a message, go to More Actions > Add to Tasks and a task is created with the title of the e-mail. A link to the e-mail is provided below the task name that takes you to the message without closing the task window. 

Overall, this is not a bad first iteration for task management in Gmail, but it is definitely still “lightweight.”

Gmail Tasks

iPhone and Enterprise E-mail… A Few Months Later Friday, Oct 24 2008 

When Apple released its iPhone 3G earlier this summer, Apple touted it as “The best phone for business. Ever.” For most users, that means enterprise e-mail, calendar, and contacts on the device. 

The iPhone 3G launched with a native support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync – a logical, but interesting choice for Apple. Logical because Microsoft Exchange is, by most measures, the leading e-mail solution in the market. Interesting in that, given the desktop marketing wars between “Mac and PC”, one wonders why Apple did not provide native support for IBM’s Lotus Notes also.

So where do things stand with other enterprise e-mail solutions a few months later? Below is a quick summary for IT shops that do not have Microsoft Exchange:

Google GAPE: For the iPhone, Google provides a tailored web interface. Another option is Gmail for mobile, a Java-based e-mail application. Gmail also supports IMAP synchronization of e-mail to iPhone’s native e-mail client.

IBM Lotus NotesIBM announced at the end of September the release of iNotes Ultralite software that supports Lotus Notes on the iPhone. The software is free for anyone with a Lotus Notes license. iNotes Ultralite is web application that leverages the Safari browser on the iPhone to access the Lotus Notes functions. The advantage is that since it is a browser, no data is stored on the iPhone (except in the browser cache), should the iPhone turn up missing.  However, it is not a client, so no data on the device also means no synchronization with the iPhone’s native e-mail, calendar, and contacts functionality.

Novell GroupWise: GroupWise 7 ships with GroupWise Mobile Server – an OEMed product from Nokia for mobile e-mail, calendar, and contacts for GroupWise. GroupWise Mobile Server does not support iPhone and, with the latest end of life announcement from Nokia for the product, will not in the future. Novell customers can utilize a partner solution recently released from Notify Technology that provides full support for the iPhone and GroupWise through the native iPhone functionality using ActiveSync.

Oracle Beehive: Using IMAP, Oracle Beehive e-mail is supported on the iPhone. Another option is to install Oracle Beehive Integration for Outlook, through which iPhone users can also synchronize calendar entries, tasks, and contacts through iTunes. Like Novell GroupWise, Notify Technology provides a technically better solution for Oracle Beehive also, with full support for the iPhone and Beehive through the native iPhone functionality.

Yahoo! Zimbra: Zimbra supports the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, which permits the iPhone to synchronize with Zimbra exactly as it would with Exchange. 

In sum, a few months later, there are ways for all of the enterprise solutions to get e-mail to the iPhone – mostly through IMAP or an optimized iPhone browser access. However, because Apple chose to support ActiveSync, the rich client experience of synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contacts with the native iPhone clients is only available to those solutions that support ActiveSync. For IBM, Novell, and Oracle this means a web client, or a third party solution like Notify Technologies that connects their product with the iPhone through ActiveSync.

If Apple wants the iPhone to be “The best phone for business. Ever.”, Apple needs to add support for other e-mail vendors, notably IBM, to deliver synchronized enterprise e-mail, calendar, and contacts.

Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

IBM Announces Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging Thursday, Oct 23 2008 

“And so it begins…”

That is the lead that Larry Cannell will use next week when he kicks off our telebriefing entitled “Software as a Service Enterprise E-mail: Get Ready to Go Beyond the Grind.” Today, IBM officially announced Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging. The three heavy weights are now in the SaaS e-mail ring: Microsoft, IBM, and Google. Cisco and Yahoo! have said they will be joining soon.

For many organizations, this means that SaaS e-mail services are now a viable option, especially now that the two primary vendors of on-premise e-mail (IBM and Microsoft) have a SaaS alternative. IT departments can realistically consider transferring the responsibility and headaches for this essential utility to a vendor and reallocate their stretched time and resources to other projects. 

Legal compliance and discovery will remain a concern for many organizations. Who owns, possesses, and accesses the data in e-mail is important. A significant amount of any organization’s intellectual property flows through its e-mail. However, I expect that concern will be resolved over time as legal precedence is set and the vendors become more compliance savvy in their SaaS offerings. 

Organizations will benefit from SaaS e-mail because it will spur more innovation by the vendors. The e-mail client is an example. The web client has made significant technological progress because of consumer web e-mail. It will likely replace the desktop client in the future because of the advantages it provides a SaaS e-mail vendor. A SaaS vendor will not want to, or possibly be able to, upgrade desktop clients – that is difficult enough today for organizations with on-premise deployments. 

The change in the delivery model also provides many benefits. For example, not many organizations can say today that they are providing e-mail services for less than $10 a month per user. The economies of scale that the vendors can bring to this market will make the price point of SaaS e-mail very attractive. In addition, getting e-mail off of IT’s responsibility list will free them to work on other projects that may lend competitive advantage to an organization. 

A price war is a possibility. There is a significant amount of revenue at stake in this market. IBM is starting at $10 per user per month for Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging. Microsoft Exchange Online is also $10 per user per month. Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) suite of tools for enterprises is starting at $50 per year per user. Cisco (PostPath) and Yahoo! (Zimbra) have yet to announce pricing. 

“So it begins, the great battle of our time.” – Gandalf, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

Beer Google? Thursday, Oct 16 2008 

I learn something new everyday…  I didn’t know that e-mailing while intoxicated was a significant problem. Well, for all of you that feel you would benefit from a little help to prevent that scenario, Google has just the thing: Mail Goggles.  

This add-on for Gmail turns on a math Q&A when you hit the send button, with varying levels of difficulty. The idea is that if you aren’t quite sober, you might have a hard time solving the math problem in under 60 seconds, and the e-mail won’t send. This prevents you from sending that flame e-mail to your boss, spouse, significant other, etc. that you might regret sending the next morning.

You can adjust the days and hours designated for the add-on to be active and the math difficulty, for those of you that are better at math than expected when inebriated.

So, enjoy that Friday and Saturday night with the comfort knowing that your Gmail will protect you from your errant e-mails while intoxicated.  

For a step-by-step walk through of the Mail Goggles experience, read Claire Suddath’s article.