The email app Mailbox is probably the most exciting technology thing of the week, over half a million people are waiting in an imaginary line to use it.
Their demo video is really cool, and MG Siegler (in my opinion one of the smartest and least abrasive people writing about tech) has been calling it “game changing” for some time.
I have a number of hesitations about using the app, namely:
- It’s a free download and there’s no way to pay for it, so as is the company won’t always have incentive to act in the users’ interest
- It’s built on a third party platform (Gmail) that Mailbox has no control over
Those issues aside, I’m actually very excited for Mailbox. Email is one of the biggest problems in my life - Paul Graham said that an attempt to fix email would be “frighteningly ambitious” - and Mailbox is a fresh approach. The design I’ve seen so far is fantastic, and despite my tweets above I actually think they’re handing the rollout in a smart way; nothing gets people more excited than waiting for something.
The productivity types have been going gaga over waiting in this line (I’m in the top 30k myself). But a fairly huge question needs to be asked here: Why is it that there are all these efforts to reinvent e-mail — from Postbox on the Mac, to the now-abandoned Sparrow, to this recent effort with Mailbox — but none of them are supporting Microsoft Exchange users? Gmail is great and I’d use it for everything if I could, but the fact of the matter is, 53% of businesses use Exchange according to a recent study by a technology research firm, and let’s be honest — for most people, the need for this app is specifically in regards to e-mail at work, not personal Gmail accounts. While Google Apps for Business is out there, it doesn’t have nearly the foothold Exchange does, so, to put it simply, no matter how innovative these apps are, they only solve part of the problem if they ignore Exchange users.
But that said, Max’s joke is hilarious. — Ernie @ SFB
UPDATE: Since I posted this last night, Mailbox’s twitter account has publicly claimed that Exchange support is coming. We’ll see what happens, though.
See, now I have hope!