I’ve been using Gmail since the week it was “released”. There’s a lot I like about it, but I’ve finally decided it’s killing me.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they used some kind of message unique identifier to implement usenet style threading. It would be immensely better if Gmail allowed me to edit the subject lines of incoming messages and thus to create new threads (like this).
In the current state though, it’s a killer. I have too much trouble picking out critically important messages from threads. Searches return the thread, and trawling through the thread is too error prone.
The obligate threading was and is a mistake.
There are other Gmail problems. Google’s only recently fixed up the Contacts model, and I despise the UI for creating mailing lists and working with Contacts. Gmail can be intermittently slow and unreliable – this past week has been very annoying. The IMAP implementation intersects badly with labels; my use of labels means Spotlight searches in OS X Mail.app return multiple instances of a single message.
There’s still a lot I like about Gmail, especially when I use it with iPhone Mail.app. I’m not going to abandon it, but I’m considering simplification measures. I might return to POP style access on OS X for example and use OS X Mail.app when I need to get real work done.
As long as Gmail was used primarily for personal email, their lowest common denominator approach wasn’t necessarily wrong. That’s often a good way to win. Now, though, Google wants to support large enterprises on their Google Apps platform. There are going to be more users like me.
If Google doesn’t start listening to its more demanding customers I won’t be the only one to start seeing other software.
Update: I realize that Gmail contributes to hiding messages in mis-identified threads by hiding the subject line on reply. Sigh.