user experience

Venit Vidi — On the Path to Gmail, I met an Android (2)

Part 2 in a series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one's daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft's Outlook, what brought about this conversion, why it took so long, and what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption.

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb3This is part 2 of a short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail, long resisted, long desired, and eventually brought to conversion by an Android.

Part 2: Fall and Android

model-t Last week our journey began. From the humble origins of Outlook to the portable synchronicity of the Windows Mobile platform, I did travel, did evolve, as needs, desires, and demands of communication and productivity so evolved and changed. Happy so this journey was, but to me unknown was the approaching end of this long traveled path, a fork in the road, nay, a change in elevation, a transformation of transportation on par with from horse to Model-T, would be a more accurate rendition of the next.

Often there is a little bit of darkness before the coming light. And, here too, this journey, is no different.

The Darkness

A darkness enveloped my already struggling Windows Mobile device; a device that had seen me through many a harrowing experience. Its age beginning to take a toll, it’s memory failing, no longer able to recall a phone number, install a new application, or for that matter, uninstall another. Its joints holding true, but clearly, obviously, succumbing to one too many a fall. It was clearly time for us to part ways, to let go, not linger over memories of good times past, proud unboxings of self and of parts, and shiny new suits of UI. But, to move on, it had become abundantly clear in my device’s last days that, I would be, should be moving on to technologies, new, more powerful, more evolved, more ready to receive me and my data, grow with me and my data; things that my decrepit device, as well as its new born decedents, was no longer capable.

Years of no true improvements to email, calendar, to do’s — I evolved, and it did not; I improved and it did not.

broken-heart-main_Full Such things can strain even the best of relationships, and I do not claim to be special or unique in my such relationship, for comfort had set in, years upon years of comfort, cohabitation with one organized like I thought, worked like I wanted (at least for the most part), whose flaws I had come to see less as such and more as mere traits making for the spice of and helping shape the unique character of this relationship. In retrospect, my Windows Mobile device always had seemed a hair behind the capacities of what I at least recalled of my old Palm PDA.

It Came

But to move on, to look elsewhere, brought forth its own set of challenges. To what device, to what platform, by what means would I find fitting in my desires to continue my ever improving evolution of efficient information, communication and its portability?

Since I had started my journey with Windows Mobile, many viable alternatives, worthy of my consideration, had come onto the scene, most notably, Apple’s iPhone, Palm’s Pre, and Google’s Android.

Iphone 3Gs I flirted, I courted, got to know, built relationships, understandings, with each and every of my new future partners. Despite iPhone’s allure, its sleek and sexy curves, in the end, I found its elitist tendencies (for it would only work with AT&T) and controlling ways (of the developer community) to be too much, a turn off, that pushed me away, and towards the Palm Pre. palm-pre From everything I heard, up to and until I met Pre, it was a friendly device, open to new things and ways of thinking, adaptable, flexible, familiar, everything I could possibly want in another. But, this relationship rapidly followed the fate of my prior encounter. While not immediately evident, Pre eventually revealed similar controlling ways. Those tendencies coupled with the occasional sluggish behavior of its UI experience, and stunted keyboard, and desires for more exclusive relationships (Sprint, non-GSM), lead to a breakup that occurred as quickly as the initial romance was strong.

Had I made a mistake in abandoning one who I had come to know, implicitly understanding its quirks and eccentricities? Had I abandoned the one who had loyally, consistently been with me for so long? On this point I stumbled, looked back, reconsidered. Yet, reluctantly, decided to one last time, give one new look, at one final thing.

My initial impressions of every Android I had heretofore seen, were ones of bewilderment, if not repulsion, from its goofy chin, to odd UI. But, time was running out, a decision was needed, to what new device, new platform, new paradigm, would I be shifting was of utmost importance in rapid determination. In the end, the openness, flexibility, kindness to strangers (developers), its constant, open, and frequent development, improvement, and evolution, sealed the deal.


While I was not 100% committed to this relationship at first, I jumped in, two feet; for it was the best of the choices before me at the time, and I would have to be saying ‘goodbye’ to my old friend very soon.

The Conversion

Part of what helped me make this life altering transition was the knowledge that my device, my Android, unlike many that had come before it, would also have abilities to bridge new and old, Gmail and Exchange.

Immediately I setup Exchange, and inputted my Gmail credentials. For, as at that time, I presumed I could continue using Exchange as my primary method of organization with Gmail (and Calendar, ..), my backup.

I was sorely mistaken. The concept of folders on my, now retired, Windows Mobile device, while mostly unusable, did exist, and could be navigated. Now, HTC’s deflating interpretation and subsequent implementation led to an experience quite flat. htc-exchange-flat And, by flat, I mean both emotionally and literally — the hierarchical folder structure, common to the ways of Exchange, Outlook, and Windows Mobile were completely flattened, with all hierarchical footprints and guidance squashed and eliminated.

So, with little alternative available, by initial choice, but then by extreme force, I was converted to Gmail by an Android. Oh yes, at first I resisted, frustrated by the lack of control of my fate, my next steps. I was bound to this path, struggled to look for a logical way back, a way out, to return to the familiar, the comfortable, hierarchically organized world from whence I came. I resented what I saw as trickery, or even, in my darkest moments, lies about what this device was going to be able to do for me.

But, in the end, I converted. Yes, at first kicking and screaming, frustrated and yelling, bewildered and confused, however, in the end, happier, more productive, more efficient, more connected, more modular than ever before in this, this journey of mine.

My email in sync,
my calendar, too.
New apps installed,
enabled yet more productivity to accrue.

The Next

First converted to a fan of Android, the platform, then converted to a fan of Gmail, too. I resisted the Android, and succumbed. I, for much longer, both longed for and resisted the conversion to Gmail. But, that, my friends, that part of this short story, I will save for next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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