Tag Archives: Gmail

Is Google using Priority Inbox to gather intelligence for Google Me?

Question: Is Google Priority Inbox an independent product development effort—or is it part of Google’s efforts to compete with Facebook and Twitter in social media?

Last Month…

Google launched the Priority Inbox service for Gmail (you can read my review here). The purpose of this service is

[To] automatically identif[y] your important email and separat[e] it out from everything else, so you can focus on what really matters.

Google does this by asking you to indicate which emails are of high priority to you (indirectly indicating which people who send you email are most important to you). From here, Google use this information to prioritise each email that it delivers via Gmail.


Google is in development of Google Me, a new social networking service “coming this Fall” to challenge Facebook and Twitter. Google Me is a follow-up to Buzz, Google’s first big foray into social networking. Buzz algorithmically guessed who should be in your social network based on who emailed you more often. However, many of these guesses were incorrect, creating significant privacy problems that eventually lead to an USD $8.5-million legal settlement and low usage of the product.

So here is the next Million-dollar Question:

Is Google using Priority Inbox to capture information about you that they can combine with everything else they know about you to enable them launch Google Me (announced to you through Gmail) pre-populated with enough personal information to compete with what Facebook already has about you? Or are these two efforts completely independent?

Why do I ask this? Three reasons:

  1. Google’s mission: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
  2. Google Dashboard: Google’s transparency in showing you what they have collected about you (something I greatly applaud)
  3. The upcoming change (on 3 October 2010) to Google’s Privacy Policy

What do you think?

Google Instant and Google Priority Inbox: One is a Winner, One Is Not

Google recently released new variations of two of their two key products. One stays true to their clean and simple approach to product design; it is a clear winner. The other kludgy and non-intuitive; I turned it off within a day (and have no plans to use it again).

Google Instant: Making Simplicity Even Simpler

Google Instant extends Google’s smart use of AJAX technology. It not only offers to automatically complete what you are typing into the search bar, it also shows you search results for the most likely topic that you are going to enter:


Google Instant does not require you to learn anything new. It does not require you to do any additional work. It simply gives you results faster. For most, this is a clear winner.

While some argue that Google uses this to prioritise search results, Google allows you to turn off Instant Search if you do not like its “algorithmic guesses.” By offer this choice, it matches the needs of all customers—those who like Google-assisted search entry, and those who do not.

Google Priority Inbox: Google’s Star Made Non-Intuitive

Google’s Priority Inbox for Gmail enables users to prioritise emails from some people as higher priority than others, raising its attention for faster identification and action. While this sounds like a great idea; unfortunately, its execution is far-from great.

Priority Inbox adds much counter-intuitive complexity. It adds a new icon priority icon on your list of mail (it is on the right of the sender; while the other priority icon—the star—is on the right). It adds a new action on every mail message: add to or decrease its priority. It doubles the number of email queues you need to manage:


It took me all of 24 hours of use to realise that Google Priority Inbox made my email experience harder to use and less enjoyable. Luckily Google enabled me to easily turn off Priority Inbox and return to my prior Gmail experience.