Is Gmail Too Powerful?

Image via Google

It seems like every day there’s another tech startup promising to make your life simpler and easier, with just the simple install of the latest app. The newest trend in technology applications are cloud-powered e-mail apps. Mailbox took the world by storm when it first launched in February of this year. So many people were using the app that it didn’t take long for Dropbox to swoop down and buy the company to reap the profits.

But today, Mailbox isn’t the brilliant success it once was. Despite the fact that the company is releasing an iPad version of their app today, the market for these email apps seem to be dwindling. The bubble is still their of course, as services of several other apps like Evomail and Mail Pilot can attest too. But the main problem is Gmail: the actual source of power for these email apps.

For a long time, Gmail didn’t even have a Gmail app for mobile devices. It was still by far and away the best new way of sending email at a computer, but when it came to anything besides your desktop, Gmail was far behind the curve.  This has all changed in recent years, as the Gmail app for iOS is now the number one ranked free app on the App Store. Mailbox is meekly ranked at number 53. Gmail’s app for iOS is smooth, fast, responsive, and a complete pleasure to use. Mailbox is still a great app, but they could be doing better things to improve their market share. Why not focus on design and speed instead of building a new version for a niche product?

The CEO of Mailbox, Gentry Underwood, commented that they were trying to make long-term decisions. To him, this meant that the company has to focus on the complaints of current users of the app, not users who aren’t using the app at all. This meant making an iPad app, which is little more than simply a larger version of the iPhone app. Despite Dropbox’s quick buy-up of the company, there seems to be no signs of Dropbox influencing the company just yet. This can be good or bad depending on your opinion of Dropbox, but for now it’s nice to see a tech startup be able to do its own thing even after being purchased by shareholders.

Google still has the reins of power though. Nearly everyone is using the service, and whether or not their using the app yet is simply a matter of time, as the company continues to make drastic strides in terms of speed and design. Email startup apps still have a place in the marketplace. The only question is for how long.