10:02 AM

Why gmail could be a killer app in the third world

It's easy to forget sometimes, as you sip your latte and check your email in your favorite cafe, cursing yourself for only packing your last-years-model Nokia instead of your spanking brand new vidphone, and realizing that you've filled your 40 gigs of iPod in one long weekend of BitTorrent frenzy ... it's easy to forget that technology can actually make a much bigger difference in people's lives. In third world countries, online communications are expensive, spotty, and sometimes critical to human life.

Human rights activists, families in refugee camps, and media developers are all dependent on online communications. That's why George Lessard, an international development specialist with particular interest in radio, technology, and development, thinks Gmail is a particularly interesting application. Here's what George told me about the pros and cons of Gmail in the developing world:

IMHO, it has plusses and minuses....


+ the 1GB of storage

+ the large file transfer size

++ the fact that the Gmail interface is not loaded down with image heavy ads that cause the pages to take a long time to display...this saves online time... especially important, as I suspect you know, in countries where online time is billed by the minute or megabyte...

++ So far...the spam catchers seem to be good...at least they have not yet claimed a personal e-mail as spam...yet...unless they are getting blocked before I see them....


- it needs recent browsers to work as it requires JavaScript that

does not work in older ones... so if a potential user only has access to the older browser versions... it will just not work... (I use Firefox on both my Mac OSX & my Win 2000)

- it remembers (with no user controlled alternative) all the e-mail addresses you send e-mail to....

- I once tried to import a set of contacts from a download of my Yahoo Mail address as a comma delineated file as Gmail suggests and it did not work... (I hope that's just me)

- the filtering options are not as good as they could be... I say

this because I use Pegasus Mail on my PC and Eudora on my Mac with OS X and both e-mail programs have MUCH better filtering than I've been able to do in Gmail (so far)

- I've tried a couple of times to get Gmail POP server features

working in Eudora... but they don't have the instructions on-line for my version of Eudora yet.... so I've not been able to get that working (yet)... also... they do not even have any settings for Pegasus Mail...

The tagging features are OK and work well... but as I am so used to using regular web e-mail... I've not used them much yet...

All in all.. because of its storage and file transfer capabilities...

and speed... I think its the best free free e-mail service out


And I like the idea that I get to invite people that I want to

help... to get an account. Much more personal... if they keep that up... that in itself may well get me to stay as a loyal user... by the way... at first it was just a few invitations that I could do... this last batch was 45 folks I could offer it too... That's really nice of Google...

(Rhetorical Questions Alert! )

Is this a good way to build brand loyalty or what?

When was the last time you heard anyone call a multimillion dollar international corporation...

"Really nice"?

The biggest plus?

Bill Gates gets no money from it ! :-)

Link: Email is the new database ...