Koz Speaks

Gmail, Web Clients and APIs

With the launch of gmail, google raised the bar for rich web applications. With Google Suggest they’ve raised it again. Alongside this bar-raising, I’ve been moving more and more of my personal data from desktop applications to web applications.

6 months ago I used Thunderbird for my email, and FeedDemon as my aggregator. All this was fine when I was at my PC, but I work full time so I spend more time away from my home computer, than I do on it. I set up Squirrel Mail for remote email access and I browsed Bloglines if I needed to catch up on websites.

When I finally got to try out gmail, I was blown away by the user interface. Most people were going on about the Gigabyte of storage, but I had hundreds of gigabytes available at home. The UI was intuitive, responsive and still ‘web-like’, so when it occured to me that I was mainly using squirrel mail for email I decided to switch to gmail. I forward all my email to my gmail account, I also keep a local copy, but so far I haven’t had to use it.

Gmail is my email client, installation and upgrades are a breeze. It runs on all 3 platforms I use (Mac, Linux & Windows), a ‘native’ app will never beat this. 1

Once I realised the benefits of storing my email online, I began to look at other data that I share between multiple computers and tried to find ways to get that data stored online. Just as I started this, Nick Bradbury announced FeedDemon’s Bloglines integration.

So last week I moved all my feeds into bloglines, and setup both of my FeedDemon installations (home & work) to check my bloglines rather than the sites themselves. Now I have one ‘definitive state’ for my feeds, and no matter which PC or mobile phone I use

I’m still using FeedDemon as my aggregator, but for those occasions where I’m away from my desktop or using my new mac. I have bloglines. I hear NetNewsWire is going to feature bloglines integration, if so, I’ll buy it. Similarly, as the bloglines site gets better, I’ll use it more sending some revenue their way.

So I use gmail because it’s a fantastic client, available over the web, and I use bloglines because it’s a decent web-client with an API that’s used by fantastic ones. By moving my data onto ‘the cloud’, I can switch clients, use multiple PCs, multiple operating systems … There’s no lock in.

So, if you’re running an online service, and you want my business you need to have an open API or a fantastic gmail-style client. If you have both I’m very interested.

I do wonder though, where’s the revenue for ‘data services’? I will be using the bloglines client from time to time, however it will definitely be the minority of my news reading experience.

1 Scoble, I don’t care how good the .NET ‘one click’ installer gets. Gmail’s installer will always better. ;)