Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Gmail is starting to bug me!

Quick update: Google woes, cont… from Michael Arrington. Back to my original post –

Strike 1, Strike 2, and Corporate Blog Blues

Strike 1
After all the love…Gmail is starting to bug me with its incessant problems. Not a great way to start the New Year. Here are 8 reasons I switched from Yahoo! Mail to Gmail, and here is why it doesn’t seem like a great idea!?

Just a week after I wrote “Uh Oh, Gmail Just Got Perfect” a number of users started complaining that all of their Gmail emails and contacts were auto deleted – Michael Arrington

Related blog posts: Google ends year on sour note – Nathan Weinberg, Gmail Disaster – Techcrunch, Even backups are gone (via O’Reilly Net)

Strike 2
And now another issue — Gmail bug exposes your mail account to spammers

Like your Gmail account? Consider it a sacred place which must be protected from spammers at all cost? Yeah, us too. Well, we hate to break the bad news at the dawn of the new year but there’s a weakness in Gmail which exposes your email address to any web site capable of exploiting the bug – Engadget

However, I was able to find a counter point to that at another great google blog (this is how their corporate blog should be), which says:

The JavaScript file is used by Google to make it easy to send videos to your contacts in Google Video, to invite people in Google Spreadsheets and Google Notebook. So it’s not a bug in Gmail, they just exposed some data in a wrong way.

Google can fix this in many ways and will certainly fix it. Until then, it’s a good idea to sign out of Gmail when you’re not using it.

The bottomline is — don’t leave gmail signed on while browsing other sites!? That’s just great. Strike 2.

Related blog posts: Gmail bug exposes users to spammers via Engadget, Gmail contact list exposure via Google operating system, Serious Gmail vulnerability fixed? via Garret Rodgers

Corporate Blog blues:
My first reaction, as a user, would be to read the official Google blog about all these issues. Why? Because you want answers from the real source. From Google’s point-of-view, it’s a great way to:

1. Reassure users that either (a) this is an unwarranted concern, or (b) this is being effectively dealt with and will have a solution by a specific day. Particularly when they already have an official blog, it beats me as to why Google is unwilling to use it to effectively engage with the customer.

It’s like you’re in a relationship and are concerned your partner is cheating on you (I know — bad analogy, nevertheless bear with me). Your partner’s silence and increased chatter from your friends is going to make you feel nervous about the relationship. However, if your partner is the first to assuage your concerns AND take remedial measures, not only does he/she earn your confidence but also effectively nullifies all the chatter.

2. Converse & truthfully engage with your users by allowing comments on your blog and responding to complaints aggressively and effectively. Squash all this blog talk on your blog by inviting user comments and addressing them. Instead all you see on the official blog is Google PR Spiel on “A year in Google blogging” or “Where on earth is Santa?“, nothing more than self-laudatory fluff posts. As a corporation, think more about “We” and less about “Me”.

3. Speak Up when your BRAND IS AT STAKE. All you have to do is to convert the negative chatter into a positive as to how quickly you have been able to address your user concerns, thereby enhancing brand loyalty. This is the same in the political arena — remember the swift boat crisis that doomed Kerry’s campaign. If only he had been more aggressive in quashing all that chatter…

Is Google up to the task?

Filed under: Uncategorized

9 Responses

  1. Mario,
    Great points about Google’s lack of deployment of their corporate blog to address concerns and what they could/should be doing. Curious that they don’t seem to get this.

    I feel like I dodged a bullet because I was moments away from switching one of my email accounts to Gmail after “Just go perfect” post but hadn’t gotten around to it when the other news started to appear.

    Marianne

    Like

  2. Mario Sundar says:

    Well, if you haven’t switched yet, then this probably is not the best time to :)

    However, the 8 reasons I cited still hold good and once I upgrade to my new mac (which should be anytime soon), I’ll start accessing gmail through the desktop email client (POP). In the interim, these news items are an annoyance :(

    As for the corporate blogging initiatives, it definitely makes no sense that EVEN a company like Google refuses to engage with the community through their blog.

    Like

  3. Jon says:

    You know…I tried and failed to protect my gmail from spammers, but, regardless of whether that’s their fault or mine, their filter finds all of it. So the end result is that every once in a while I notice “wow, 193 messages in spam, that NEVER used to happen”, click the “delete all” button, and then go about my day. It’s still better, to me, than my Yahoo address, or, God forbid, Hotmail.

    Like

  4. icedmocha says:

    I’m with Jon. Despite the problems, gmail beats Yahoo hands down.

    Like

  5. Mario Sundar says:

    Jon,

    The primary competition is between Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. Esp. when it comes to spam catchers, Y! Mail (Paid) and Gmail do a great job. It’s just the new problems that are a stumbling block towards increased conversions to gmail.

    And as I mentioned in my post, icedmocha, despite the issues, I’m sticking with gmail. The benefits outweigh the issues that are arising.

    Like

  6. Miguel says:

    I like Gmail because:
    1. I can use all my email addresses via gmail;
    2. I can classify emails under different tags;
    3. storage;
    4. it’s free;
    5. pop access

    I don’t like Gmail because:
    1. spam attacks

    Conclusion:

    I stick with Gmail!

    Like

  7. Mario Sundar says:

    Interesting, Miguel — your 5 reasons are similar to my reasons as well.

    Fortunately, I haven’t had a spate of spam attacks (yet) and as a matter of fact, faced spam attacks via Yahoo! mail as well, so I think you took the right decision to stick with Gmail :)

    Like

  8. Upal Chatterji says:

    Till Gmail came along I was stuck with mean sized mail accounts…gamil has opened a flurrey of new features(Picasa,google Talk,Maps,Search ) all integrated together very well..I find it extremely convenient to use Gmail and am sticking with it…spams are no doubt numerous and increasing even more but the filter takes care of most of those….only danger is that once in a way I have found a genuine mail from a new sender badged as spam so I am a bit careful before hitting the ‘delete all spam messages’ button

    Like

  9. Mario Sundar says:

    I definitely love Gmail’s integration w/ Google calendar and Google Maps. Priceless.

    I do get spam but did get the same level of spam with my earlier mail service Yahoo! Mail. So, no difference there.

    Like

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