Gmail Mobile Released
Google has released a new helper application for Gmail, located at gmail.com/app on your phone.
The new client will let J2ME phones access their Gmail accounts in a way that is up to five times faster than the simple mobile web browser access, is optimized for lesss clicking and fewer keystrokes for reading, composing, or searching mail, and automatically resized attachments. I’ve heard good things about it, but the J2ME format means I will never get a chance to actually use it. For now, we can all gaze at these images:
I gotta say, I’m really surprised at Google’s mobile strategy. Both Ask.com and Windows Live have unveiled great mobile portals that put all of their mobile services right at their main URL, are simple and easy to navigate, have great features and run in any mobile browser, regardless of hardware. Meanwhile, Google’s offerings are all at different URLs, there is no central portal, half of them don’t run on many different phones, and going to google.com on a mobile reveals absolutely nothing useful.
Why is Google so far behind its competitors? How do you let Ask and Microsoft so badly one-up you?
Going to Google.com on my phone gets me a search box, with options for Web, Images, Local and “Mobile Web”, and links to News, Gmail, and the online version of the personalized homepage. Web search is excellent,
Going to mobile.google.com gets links supposedly customized for my phone, which is poorly identified on the page. The links are a link back to the mobile version of google.com (from the last paragraph, strangely called Search, even though it is more than that), the Google Maps and Gmail applications (both J2ME), Google News (which is also under the Search link), Google SMS (which is redundant, since I’m obviously already running the mobile internet) and Blogger mobile. Because the page misidentified my phone, 2 out of 6 links on the page did not run at all.
There’s also a seperate Google Maps application for Treo devices. What this reveals is a lack of strategy, a lack of keeping it simple for your users, no clear path for a mobile user to just type in google.com and get what they want.
The no-bull rundown:
When you type ask.com in your mobile phone, what do you get? Read my very positive review, or just understand that it automatically redirects you to a portal with web search, directions, images, business listings, maps, weather, bloglines, area code search, currency conversions, horoscopes and the current time. It uses straight-up normal HTML, so it works on every phone.
When you type live.com in your mobile phone, what do you get? Read my positive review, or just understand that it automatically redirects you to a portal with web search, email, blogging, local search, instant messaging, personalized homepage, msn.com, MSNBC, FOX Sports, weather, financial news, entertainment news, and calendaring. It uses straight-up normal HTML, so it works on every phone.
When you type google.com in your mobile, what do you get? A mobile search engine. The portal is mobile.google.com, and it has redundant and non-working features. It uses a mishmash of incompatible technologies that work on different phones at different times, with no clear directions.
You can read my positive review when I’ve got something positive to say about it.
Visit the InsideGoogle blog.