Google is pretty fast-moving, as company cultures go, rolling out new products on a regular basis. And yet its popular Gmail service is only just now getting around to providing offline e-mail access, a feature that open-source Zimbra has had for nearly two years.
Excuse me, therefore, if I stifle a yawn at Google's announcement. While Google may claim nearly 70 percent of the search market, its rival, Yahoo, which acquired Zimbra in September 2007, is outpacing it in e-mail innovation.
It has ever been thus. Google's heart appears to be in search, not in alternative services like e-mail: it's rarely first to market with cutting-edge features for Gmail.
Will it matter? Perhaps not. But as Google and Yahoo look beyond the consumer search market to enterprise IT, I believe that things like enterprise-class e-mail, which Yahoo has in Zimbra, will come to matter more and more. Google won't forever have the luxury of playing catch-up with Yahoo's Zimbra on a two-year time delay.
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