Gmail and small business

Bernard posted saying that he’s made the move to cut out his use of Microsoft Outlook, now solely relying on Gmail for all his email requirements. He states the benefits of better (for him) search, the simplicity of having everything in one app, better spam protection and the ability to use Google with corporate domains all adding up to a good business case for Gmail.

I’ve been using Gmail pretty much exclusively for my email purposes for a few years now – but there is one barrier to uptake increasing – especially amongst mobile users. I use my smartphone pretty extensively and while I can access my Gmail and Google calendar on the device via the browser, it’s be really useful to be able to see email and events within the native Windows Mobile device, and at the same time be able to sync my contacts between Gmail and the device – sure this can be done by using various third party offerings, or by making an intermediate sync to Outlook – but native syncing direct from Google to Win Mob would be really useful.

Similarly another important feature missing from the most likely Outlook competitor is offline access. It is a long-time-coming feature that will really increase the utility of Gmail

Having said all that though, the fact that a small business can have Gmail using their own domain, that they can bypass their own ISPs mail servers to decrease traffic quantity and that they can obtain "enterprise grade" spam protection all adds up to a pretty compelling argument to offshore their email to Mountain View.

11 Comments
  • I think what Bernard meant to say was that he had switched from his ISP-provided email to Gmail. The client that he uses to access his mail is irrelevant – he can still use Outlook to access his Gmail account. The main reason he provides for “ditching Outlook” is that he couldn’t send mail – that has nothing to do with Outlook, but is a common problem with ISP mail as they often require outbound emails to originate from their own network. This has been a common problem in NZ when someone tries to send an email from their Xtra account while using a Telstra internet connection (or vice versa).

    I don’t recommend anyone uses the email address that they are provided by their ISP as it ties them into that ISP and can’t switch to a better provider without having to change their email address. (I have a friend who has had email accounts on Paradise, ihug, Paradise, and Slingshot – each time he switched ISPs an email would come out “please update your address books with my new email address…”)

  • Yes and no Stuart – I agree that people shouldn’t tie their email to their ISP. But ISPs can host domains and the email that runs upon them. Choosing Google as your email hoster is a utility decision primarily.

    I think Bernard meant that he stopped checking his @bernard address using his ISP and started checking it using Gmail. Sure he can do this on Outlook via IMAP or POP, but the change to a completely hosted email solution does create a degree of disintermediation and reduces the chances of SMTP issues springing up which can occur when using an installed app without an associated SMTP service

    Or something…

  • Well perhaps Bernard can fill us in on what email system he was using before he switched to Gmail, I left a similar comment there too.

    The point I’m making is that he blames Outlook for not being able to send mail from his new office, and also for the amount of spam that he was receiving. But neither of these problems are Outlook’s fault, they just mean that his previous email provider had little or no spam protection and required outbound email to originate from it’s own network.

  • Ben, there are a number of tools around for syncing google to a winmo phone – both cal and contacts, as email is already sorted with IMAP. I almost bought one, but ended up getting an iphone, so it wasn’t needed.

    You dont get push tho, which is a pity, ‘cos winmo does push so very very well. I’d settle for the old “send an email to this address when new mail comes in”, which is an SMS address, and the phone then initiates a pull. Was really good on battery life pre-active sync push.

    As for the iphone, I hope someone comes out with this soon, esp as google now has caldav on gcal. I have to go gcal -> spanning sync -> ical -> iphone. I can’t just go iphone -> gcal. YET. It’ll come tho.

    Other than that, I dont see why ANYONE would use an ISP’s email service – it may go down, be moved, sold, lost etc, where as there are a number of good ones which are ISP independant, and even google for domains, if you want your domain, is free (tho I pay $50/box/year, even tho google havn’t bothered to charge me for my second year, for some reason). And if you use Dreamhost, it’s very simple to setup a new domain, push the mail to google (well, setup MX’s etc), and uplaod a website with pretty much NO complex interaction. All for $6US/month. So easy.

  • Just another comment… offline Gmail access has been there since day one – just use a desktop client! Especially if you’re using IMAP – you can use Outlook on your desktop to access your mail and read/unread items are synced between Outlook and the server. And here’s another tip – if you use Outlook to access your Gmail email through IMAP, turn off send/receive in Outlook. Email is pushed down to Outlook from the server and sometimes even appears in Outlook before it shows up in the Gmail interface.

    And on the topic of syncing – I use GooSync to sync several Google hosted calendars to my Nokia N95, works superbly.

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  • @Nic – sure there are tools to enable google to outlook sync but in an ideal world it wouldn’t take a tool – it’d just work – the way outlook to winmob sync works (and yes I know that uses activesync but it’s pretty seamless)

  • I ditched using the exchange/outlook combo in March and haven’t looked back.

    Gmail for domains using pop works perfectly with the blackberry. No need for any extra plugins etc.

    Download Google Sync (super easy) and you have calendar sync as well.

    The biggest part of the switch was moving all of my email history into gmail. It took a few hours for my pst to copy into the gmail pop account I setup in outlook.

  • It does – google does caldav now. Well, it’s early beta, but it’s coming, and O2007 supports caldav.

    Personally, I hate outlook, so it’s a moot point.

  • @nic – but what about if I don’t want outlook installed but want to go from Google to Winmob directly????

  • GooSync works with Windows Mobile devices too – http://www.goosync.com

  • OK – and I know I’m being a pedant – but this is what I want

    - True two way over the air sync between gcal and win mob without having a third party intermediate the process
    - the ability to set up new appointments and invite contacts from gmail
    – the ability to email contact natively out of winmob and to chose contacts from my google account without having to manually sync contacts ever

    AFAIK this degree of sync is, as yet, unavailable (and I know I could just use Outlook, or get another phone, or do everything through a mobile browser – I’m just saying what my ideal would be)

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