The Google Enterprise Blog:
When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to make things very straightforward. Starting today for all new customers:
Individuals wishing to use Google’s web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device.
For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year.
The first bits that eventually became Google Apps for Domains are 6 years old, and now the free product (which was the first one) is just gone. I have set up Google Apps accounts for tons of people over the years and use it myself on a daily basis.
I’m sad to see the free product go. My assumption is that this change is part of their apparent and current strategy of getting more and more people shoved over to Google+, which isn’t as ubiquitous on the Apps platform and doesn’t matter as much to business and/or government users.
The Sparrow blog:
We’re excited to announce that Sparrow has been acquired by Google!
We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience.
Why does that last sentence sound like they failed at it or are giving up?
We’d like to extend a special thanks to all of our users who have supported us, advised us, given us priceless feedback and allowed us to build a better mail application. While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.
We had an amazing ride and can’t thank you enough.
Translation: We won’t be adding any features to the app, so you can forget about bottom-posting or any other feature requests. Might not even be pushing bug fixes.
If you are looking for a new mail client, I can recommend and use Postbox. Made by part of the original Thunderbird team, has support for Gravatars, does bottom-posting with selective quotes, does cool things with Gmail, has a great Inbox Zero flow.
I can only hope they do an iOS email client as well someday.
It’s telling that even within the Gmail team, there is a basic, fundamental, deep-seeded inability to put things together in a contextually graceful way that makes sense to actual (non-Googler) users—in other words, to deliver a great user experience.
Understanding how users want to navigate around the application, which tasks to show as buttons versus which to hide in menus, which features should be left out completely, and so on . . . those seemingly minor decisions are often the difference between good software and great software, and the reason great product managers and interaction designers are always in demand.
This is very true. I didn’t understand how true until I began working with these things a few years ago. It’s fascinating to watch how hard my colleagues work every day to provide and continually improve excellent user experiences.
You should read the whole thing. (via TechCrunch.)
Networking and blogging sites account for almost ten percent of time spent on the internet — more than on email.
Time on the sites ranked fourth, after online searching, general interest sites, and software sites, according to a study released by Nielsen Online.
One in every 11 minutes spent online globally is on networking sites. Between December 2007 and December 2008, the time spent on the sites climbed 63 percent to 45 billion minutes.
I don’t find this horribly surprising. I suspect the chief reason social networking is winning out over email is spam-related. Even with good filtering that’s out there like Gmail, there are still a lot of people who have email accounts that let a whole bunch through, and the amount of it now is just staggering.
Social networking is more attractive than email because it’s largely permission-based. If I don’t want you to speak to me or know anything about me, I can shut you out and there’s nothing you can do about it. Messaging is largely controlled in the same way, and in the case of (especially) Facebook, there’s a lot more than just communication I can do within the same web service. I can play a game with one of my friends, I can upload a picture or tag an article… there are a lot of options.
What do you think? Why are people spending more time on social networks than with email? (I sincerely hope it’s not because of SuperPoke.)