Forbes reports: “Google’s free e-mail service called Gmail, which will offer significantly more storage than Yahoo or MSN, ‘is not a hoax,’ said Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s vice president of products.”
Rosenberg admitted that, in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, “We were having fun with” the press release. But “we are very serious about Gmail.”
Sounds like it’s actually real!
(Of course, this “beta tester” could really be a Google agent, further trying to fool us… how is it that his screenshot shows message from yesterday evening? Why would he have junk mail from Wednesday if he just signed up for the account 30 minutes ago? Hmmm…)
The BBC, meanwhile, doesn’t get it. “Timing makes Google an April Fool,” the Beeb’s headline declares. Subhed: “The first rule of public relations: check the calendar before your big product launch.”
The article begins, “Google, one of the savviest firms on the internet, has learnt this lesson the hard way after announcing it was taking a leap into the e-mail market. Thanks to the date on its press release - 1 April - most of its target market was convinced the launch was a hoax.”
Google didn’t “learn” anything “the hard way.” This is obviously exactly what they intended — to generate “buzz” and excitement and interest by making people wonder if this is really real or not. As Dane and Harry2 said, it’s a brilliant strategy, and it has worked like a charm. The “fool” in ths discussion is the BBC, for not grasping that.
STOP THE PRESSES! Now, wait just a minute. I e-mailed Mr. Screenshot and asked, “I don’t understand… how is it that your GMail has junk mail from yesterday evening, if you just signed up for the account this afternoon?” He replied:
Maybe I just forwarded some mail for testing, or maybe… ;-)
Now what the hell does THAT mean???
I am once again officially back on the fence regarding whether I think Gmail is real.
But hey, how about that John McCain? :)
ANOTHER UPDATE: Count me back in the “unbelievers” camp. This screenshot guy is the perfect cover for Google to keep the joke going. As I just e-mailed Glenn Reynolds, “His ‘criticism’ of Gmail, combined with his statement that ‘Although I saw nothing in the TOS against it, I might get kicked out of the beta program for posting this,’ seems to lend him credibility… but really, he’s a rat!!” His statement that “Until about 30 minutes ago, I though that Gmail was one of the best April’s fool ever” also makes him seem like an outsider, a person who isn’t in on the joke, just like you and me. But he’s in bed with Google. They put him up to this! IT’S A HOAX!!!
Okay, it’s not like I’m sure it’s a hoax, but I’m back to being very skeptical. Screenshot Guy Eric’s alternative explanation — “Maybe I just forwarded some mail for testing” — doesn’t make sense to me, because forwarded e-mail would show the date and time that it was forwarded, not the date and time that it was originally sent. Unless of course Gmail can import POP mail from other sources… but that’s not what Eric said, he said “forwarded.” And I don’t see how that explanation adds up.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, the database at work is busily, slowly refreshing a whole bunch of documents as I type this… that’s why I have the free time to continue writing about Google. :)