Google says it aims Gmail at the technological elite, knowing that the information overload problems they have today will be the problems mainstream users have tomorrow. But apparently the company isn't above appealing to those who are willing to judge a book by its cover as well as its content.
On Wednesday, Google launched themes for Gmail, a feature that lets people customize the appearance of the Webmail application with a variety of new looks. Google is gradually rolling out the new feature to Gmail members "over the next couple of days," said Gmail team member Annie Chen.
It's something of a departure for a site that prides itself on its utilitarian nature--even the addition of graphical smileys to Gmail can be justified as improving a message's emotional nuance. But given Google's move toward the mainstream, it's smart. People like to personalize their frequently-used computing tools.
Perhaps more interesting from a brand perspective, Google is even willing to give up the Gmail logo in some of the skins. That suits me fine--I find the logo an eye-trippingly ugly hodgepodge of the Google G, a graphical envelope for the "m", and three sans-serif letters for "ail."