Fifteen years ago, the new email service showed everyone Google was more than just a search company. Sundar Pichai CEO of Google, a few years ago told us that when he first interviewed for a job at Google on April 1, 2004, at that time he thought that the email service was an April Fools’ joke. April 1.2004 it is the same day when Gmail launched.
After Fifteen years he said it’s abundantly clear at him that Gmail is no joke. The web-based system of Google has 1.5 billion users a month as compared to Yahoo Mail who has 228 million monthly users. After some time, Gmail displaced incumbents like AOL Mail and Hotmail. It’s still a free product for consumers, but now it’s also the backbone of a paid suite of enterprise products, including presentation and word-processing software.
On every Monday, Google celebrated the birthday quietly by announcing a few new Gmail features. One new tool of Gmail lets you write an email as you normally do, but schedule it to be sent later. The company is also bringing a new Smart Compose feature, which uses artificial intelligence to predict what you might write next in an email, to all Android phones. Previously, this feature was only available on desktop computers and Google’s Pixel phones but the company announced that it’s coming to iPhones “soon.” The feature will also be available in more languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
The success of Gmail did more than create a useful and popular product for users. Gmail forever changed Google’s trajectory also. It was the first time when it serves to demonstrate to the company that Google could dominate something beyond search. Gmail set Google on a course to touch every part of our online lives.
A year after Gmail appeared, the company launched Google Maps. Now it is NO.1 map service on the web. Google also bought the biggest operating system which is Android and the biggest video sharing system which is YouTube. Google built the Chrome browser, which toppled Microsoft’s internet explorer when IE was on top of the world. All those Google products have more than a billion users each. Android alone powers almost 9 out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally.
“Gmail was a service that showed a different side of Google,” said Bob O’Donnell, president of Tech Analysis Research. “If it had failed, who knows if they would have been as willing to try all those other things?”
When it started, Gmail was a roll of the dice for Google co-founder Larry Page.
“When we released that, we were a search company,” according to Page as told to Wired in 2013. “It was a leap for us to put out an email product.”
Gmail played a very important part in the company’s famous “10X” thinking, which is the philosophy of aiming for moonshots in innovation rather than incremental improvements. Gmail’s big innovation? This service provides 1GB of storage, which is a hundred times the amount other email services were offering at the time.
As Google became a more complex company now its problems also got more complex. Google is under intense scrutiny over its size and scale. Lawmakers and the users of Google have called out the company for its failure to curb the spread of disinformation and for its potential to aid censorship in China. Last week, Sundar Pichai CEO of Google met with president Donald Trump and talk about the company’s work in China, as well as Google’s “political fairness” in the US.
Gmail itself has stoked controversy. Last year, the service of Google Gmail faced blowback over data privacy when it was reported that some third-party software developers could read the peoples email. Google emphasized that people needed to grant permission to those apps to get an access, but it is also possible that consumers may not have really understood what they were getting into. Google goes above and beyond of our thinking to make sure your information is safe, secure and always available for you.
The leader of Gmail Tom Holman said in an interview about Gmail that “Our commitment to the security of your data is absolute, and we will keep fighting against anyone and everyone who tries to compromise it.”
In the meantime, services of Google are still evolving. In April, Google releases a big makeover for its services, with new features like the ability to “snooze” messages so they pop up later, and also introduce the ability to open attachments like pictures and PDFs without actually opening the email message. Last week, Google also began rolling out “dynamic” email, which lets you do things like fill out surveys and search for hotels directly in your inbox.
Now let’s talk about the next 15 years?
Holman said one area of focus is integrations with other collaboration products, like Asana and Trello. O’Donnell the Tech analysis analyst said that as email services compete with other communication software like Slack. “There were proclamations several years ago that email was going to die,” O’Donnell said. “That didn’t happen. But there will be an interesting evolution.”