Gmail: A Symbol Of Everything That Is Wrong With Google--And The Reason Apple Is A Far More Beloved Consumer Company

marissa-mayer-web2summit.jpgMy colleagues just put together a neat slideshow of all the cool things you can do with Gmail if you're inclined to check out a little tab called "Labs".

There are things like:

  • Forgotten attachment detector, and
  • Did you get the wrong "Bob"?, and
  • YouTube previews in emails

And that's cool.  I guess.  If I ever want to watch a YouTube preview in email or feel the need to install a "forgotten attachment detector"--and I figure out that "Labs" is code for "settings"--maybe I'll experiment with it.

But between now and then I am going to continue to curse Google every minute of every day that they force me to view my email as a series of "Conversations."

As I've explained before, I understand that some people like the "Conversations" format.  I'm happy for them.  I, personally, can't stand "Conversations."  For me, they are confusing, cause me to miss important emails, and never work properly. 

For me, moreover, "Conversations" symbolizes everything that is wrong with Google.  It symbolizes why the company has a much smaller chance than it should of dethroning Microsoft in the enterprise.  It symbolizes why Apple will always have a big leg up when it comes to winning consumers' hearts and minds.

Why does "Conversations" symbolize all this for me?

Because it would be so simple for Google to create a "Normal email view" for people like me.  But Google refuses to do it.  Google would rather let its engineers fiddle around with "Labs" and "YouTube previews" and "forgotten attachment detectors" than do something so mundane and boring as let me view my email the normal way.  Google has concluded that the "Conversations" format is better.  So Google will be damned if they're going to build inferior old-way features for the likes of me.

In the mid-1990s, when Bob Pittman arrived at AOL, most people had written AOL off for dead.  AOL was "the Internet on training wheels," everyone said.  AOL didn't get that the Internet was about "technology."

And, yes, five years later, AOL crashed and burned, having failed to make the jump to broadband.  But before that its market capitalization increased nearly 100-fold, from about $2 billion to over $200 billion, and its subscriber base soared from 3 million to 20+ million.

Why did AOL kill everyone in the 1990s?

Because Bob Pittman understood what Google does not: When it comes to consumer products, it's not about "technology."  It's about consumer behavior and brands.  Consumers don't like to customize.  They don't like to be forced to learn new ways of doing things.  They actually don't like "technology"--at least not for technology's sake.  Consumers like to keep things simple and easy. 

Google doesn't understand that yet, at least not the folks who make Gmail.  (Google's Search, meanwhile, is as simple as can be--which is why everyone loves it).  With Gmail, Google is still infatuated with the idea that it can do everything "better."  Google can't be bothered to do things the old way because the old way is boring.

Well, here's what I'm hoping.  I'm hoping that the equivalent to Patrick Pichette--Google's new CFO who has finally brought financial and spending discipline to the company--will soon arrive on the product side.  I'm hoping this person will understand that, for the mainstream Gmail user, it's not about "technology."  I'm hoping that that person will understand that every day that Google makes me view my email as "Conversations" is a day that it is alienating millions of folks who would otherwise be big champions of the company. 

Adding a "Normal email view" would be so easy.  Until Google understands this--and adds it--it will never have a chance against Apple at becoming a beloved mainstream consumer company.

See Also: 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Gmail And Google Calendar

i'm waiting for the day google makes any real money outside of search.

Apple's iPhone Is Now Losing Market Share

Cracked iPhone
AAPL Feb 2 2010, 10:53 AM EST
193.84 Change % Change
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Apple's iPhone only captured a 16.6% share of global smartphone sales in Q4, down from 18.1% in Q3, says ABI Research (via WSJ).

Put differently, the world smartphone market grew 26% and Apple only grew 18%.

The culprits?

Google's Android and Nokia's Oyj. Apparently, the iPhone just doesn't seem that cool anymore.

Better hurry up and launch a new one, Steve!

amazing how fast you can innovate and steal market share.

Packaged Salad Bacteria: New Study Finds Salad Can Contain High Levels of Fecal Bacteria

Consumer Reports' latest tests of packaged leafy greens found bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination, in some cases, at rather high levels. The story appears in the March 2010 issue of Consumer Reports and is also available free online. Consumers Union today also issued a report urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set safety standards for greens. FDA food safety legislation pending in the Senate, and passed last summer by the House of Representatives, would require the FDA to create just such safety standards.

The tests, which were conducted with financial support from the Pew Health Group, assessed for several types of bacteria, including total coliforms and Enterococcus--"indicator organisms" found in the human digestive tract and in the ambient environment that can signal inadequate sanitation and the potential for the presence of disease-causing organisms. While there are no existing federal standards for indicator bacteria in salad greens, there are standards for these bacteria in milk, beef, and drinking water. Several industry consultants suggest that an unacceptable level in leafy greens would be 10,000 or more colony forming units per gram (CFU/g).

Consumer Reports found that 39 percent of samples exceeded this level for total coliform, and 23 percent for Enterococcus. The tests did not find E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella--sometimes deadly pathogens which can be found in greens, although it was not expected given the small sample size. According to Consumers Union, the goal was to investigate other markers of poor sanitation that should be used in the food safety management of produce.

"Although these 'indicator' bacteria generally do not make healthy people sick, the tests show not enough is being done to assure the safety or cleanliness of leafy greens," said Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Unions, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "Levels of bacteria varied widely, even among different samples of the same brand. More research and effort is needed within the industry to better protect the public. In the meantime, consumers should buy packages of greens that are as far from the use-by date as possible."

For its latest analysis, Consumer Reports had an outside lab test 208 containers of 16 brands of salad greens, sold in plastic clamshells or bags, bought last summer from stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Among the findings:

  • 39 percent of samples exceeded 10,000 CFUs (or another similar measure) per gram for total coliforms and 23 percent for Enterococcus, the levels industry consultants deemed unacceptable.
  • 2 percent of samples exceeded French and 5 percent Brazilian standards for fecal coliform bacteria.
  • Many packages containing spinach, and packages which were one to five days from their use-by date, had higher bacterial levels. Packages six to eight days from their use-by date generally fared better.
  • Whether the greens came in a clamshell or bag, included "baby" greens, or were organic made no difference in bacteria levels.
  • Brands for which there were more than four samples, including national brands Dole, Earthbound Farm Organic, and Fresh Express, plus regional and store brands, had at least one package with relatively high levels of total coliforms or Enterococcus.

CU is calling on the Senate to pass pending FDA food safety reform legislation that requires the agency to set performance standards as well as develop safety standards for the growing or processing of fresh produce. It's also asking that FDA formally declare certain pathogenic bacteria--such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria--be considered adulterants when found in salad greens.

Until packaged salad becomes cleaner, consumers' best line of defense involves following these procedures in stores and kitchens:

  • Buy packages far from their use-by date.
  • Wash the greens even if the packages say "prewashed" or "triplewashed." Rinsing won't remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
  • Prevent cross contamination of greens by keeping them away from raw meat and poultry.

Originally posted on

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out food supply is fucked. everyone should watch food inc.

Palm Pre Plus Review: Is Plus Enough? - Techland

Palm made a splash at CES in 2009 with the announcement of webOS and I'd say they've done a good job maintaining that momentum. A year later, they've added Verizon and AT&T to the roster and updated both the Pre and Pixi with – what some might call – minor updates. It's been a week since the Pre Plus (Pixi Plus, too) went on sale with Verizon and the following is what I've managed to gather about the latest device in a little over a week.

To the untrained eye, the Palm Pre Plus looks exactly like the Palm Pre that was released back in June ('09). Upon closer inspection you'll notice that the Verizon variant sports a clean and button less façade. It's safe to assume that Palm learned a thing or two with the Pixi, which lacks a physical button and relies solely on a touch-sensitive gesture area. It's incredibly responsive and depending on which direction you swipe, the area just below the screen lights up and trails the movement of your finger. It's this little area that serves as the control center for navigating and initiating webOS applications. But more on that later.

Slide the Pre Plus open and you're presented with an updated keyboard that's less mushy and firm to the touch. It gives a satisfying click and it's much easier to mash out text messages or e-mails with this keyboard than the previous Pre keyboard. I think my claustrophobia tricks my brain into thinking that the Pre Plus keyboard is smaller and more confined than it really is compared to the Pixi keyboard.

(More on Techland: Hands-on With the Apple iPad)

The battery cover is now Touchstone ready out of the box so you can slap the device onto the inductive charging stone without having to switch backplates.

Under the hood, Palm beefed up the RAM, which is most noticeable when flicking through various “cards” or apps, but it's not quite fast enough compared to other devices available on the market. It is, however, far less frustrating to use compared to the Sprint version and it actually multi-tasks compared to that other device made in Cupertino. Internal storage doubled from 8GB to 16GB.

webOS and Software
When Palm unveiled webOS at CES '09 I almost fell over in my chair. It's a ridiculously powerful OS that continues to surprise me the more I use it. The key features of webOS are multi-tasking, unobtrusive notifications and Synergy. Each individual app (camera, phone, browser, etc.) is a “card” in the webOS ecosystem that's displayed side-by-side with other cards that continues to run or stay open until you flick it off the screen by swiping from the bottom to top. It's that simple.

Have you ever received a text message or calendar notification that interrupts whatever task you're currently involved with? Has it taken you away from said task even though what you really want to do is ignore it? Well, with webOS, you never have to respond to such a notification until you're ready to address it.

(More on Techland: Nexus One Review: The Hardware Isn't The Problem, Android Is)

Synergy is this crazy thing that Palm came up with to manage your online persona. It compiles data from up to eight different accounts from: Exchange, Facebook, AIM, Palm profile, and Google/Gmail. For example, calendar events from Exchange and Facebook are color coded so you know which events are for pleasure and which are for business. A neat feature in Calendar truncates whatever day you're looking at so you don't see the gaps between meetings, for example. In other words, if you have a meeting at 8AM, an early dinner 6 and a phone call at 11:30PM, those are things you'll see instead of empty time slots. Contacts are condensed so you don't have double entries, which is nice but it pulls in just about every person you've ever e-mailed when syncing with your Gmail account.

If you're a Pre or Pixi owner then you have nothing to worry about on the software front because all Palm webOS devices are currently running v1.3.5.1. Palm will release v1.4 of webOS sometime this month and with it comes the ability to record and edit video, battery and performance fixes, as well as access to a Beta of Flash 10.1 for the real McCoy Flash in the browser.

Unlike the Sprint Palm Pre, Verizon decided to leave the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus untouched except for VZ Navigator, which Palm redesigned. If you're familiar with VZ Navigator on any other Verizon device then you know what to expect with it on the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus.

(More on Techland: 12 Best Android Apps To Get You Started)

Battery life on the Pre Plus is like any other 3G device that's chock-full of must-have features like GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Your mileage will vary depending on data usage, Web browsing, e-mail, etc. You'll get through lunch and then some with moderate use. But don't stray too far from an outlet. You're better off keeping the thing charged whenever possible.

The camera works great with adequate light and everything taken within a few feet with flash gets blown out. The same can be said for every other camera phone available. Par for the course, I say.

Phone calls on both ends are fine.

Verizon is mighty and works just about everywhere I've gone and that includes NYC, San Francisco and their respective boroughs and/or suburbs.

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great review of the new palm pre plus. i agree with the review -- palm really needs to introduce a larger screen device and fix the slow/sloppy OS issues.