GMail vs. Windows Live, the Argument

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UPDATE: For an extension of this arguement, please see my comment below (note: it’s as long as this post) in response to Nathan Weinberg’s comment.

Ok, so here’s the deal. Google recently announced “GMail for your domain,” a new service that would enable folks with domains which have high e-mail usership to signup for the beta test and if accepted, sack their webmail systems and switch to using GMail for their domain (so for example I’d be using sid@rev2.org with the GMail interface rather than Thunderbird or RoundCube or whatever). This is cool, unfortunately only available to a selected number of people who got accepted to beta test, but still, cool.

Here’s the twist: Microsoft’s been doing this since day one (of Windows Live, nearly.) So, Google merely copied them. Robert Scoble then came out with a good arguement in saying (a) Why should Google get the credit? and (b) Why do bloggers weigh Google higher than Microsoft when Google’s the bad guy here? Because they get paid by them? (most of the people who blogged about this had AdSense on their website)

Scoble puts a good arguement, but I’m afraid he’s missing the actual point. The actual point is that when there’s competition, there’s always one company or product which is better than another. In this case, GMail is totally better than whatever the guys at Windows Live are doing with e-mail. So, we, as regular Internet people, will care 110% more about GMail doing custom domains than Windows Live. For one thing, only a few people have got to try Windows Live (which is very selfish of them) as opposed to GMail’s millions. For another, GMail is really the leader of webmail. So, for example, would you care more if Google released a new search feature that really changes things or AskJeeves or LookSmart? Of course, Google’s the leader here so clearly, you would care more.

As for that AdSense bit, I think it’s just a big co-incidence. Lots of bloggers who run AdSense complain, bad-mouth, and hate Google, however, only for things that they actually *believe* Google is bad at. For instance, the Google Video Store. But this thing is something good, so being the great bloggers that they are, why wouldn’t they praise and write about it?

In the whole arguement, I do agree with one of Scoble’s point, which is Google copying Microsoft and getting the credit. Having a great product is one thing and having a great new original product is another. Microsoft should get the credit for this. However, in the end, it’s like saying since WebCrawler or whatever it was invented the concept of search engines, and since Google, Yahoo! and others “copied” it, WebCrawler should be known as the best search engine around and Google and others copycats.


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