In the dearth of tech ambiguity following the iPad announcement last month, Google has stepped forward to provide us with a day of speculation.
Since we’ve only got until 10am PDT tomorrow (1pm Eastern) we’d better cram it all in now. It will be revolutionary! It’s screwing with our GMail. Privacy concerns! I’m going back to AOL! Change the way we look at e-mail… Maybe it will be as hot as Google Wave!
As with the iPad, while the tech blogosphere loses its collective shit over GMail changes, no one is really exactly clear on what is to be unveiled tomorrow at the Google event. Most speculation is based on a piece in the WSJ that cites “unnamed sources,” and broadly describes something designed to “take a swipe at Facebook” involving “status updates.”
According to the WSJ’s unnamed sources, the new feature would be a “module” in Gmail where users can click through to see a stream of friends’ updates, YouTube video sharing and Picasa photos. It would be an extension of Gmail’s instant-messenger style status messages, which are displayed along with presence information and currently aren’t archived for search or perusal.
I will don my speculation hat for a minute here and say that while Google innovations are generally decent, this one sounds a bit iffy. Google already doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on who my friends are based on e-mail, and with its long memory, this status update thing could create a lot of noise in the popular GMail service.
I’m also dismayed at the trend towards making all things be all things to all people. Just like cellphone cameras and computer based movie viewing apps don’t live up to their dedicated counterparts, I like my email in my email and my status updates on Facebook and Twitter. Google could pull off something compelling here, but until the announcement is made to define the new product, we don’t know. And I’m worried- GMail’s contextual advertising already knows way too much about my life.