Mailbox Promises to Solve Your Email Problem

A new startup called Mailbox is promising to solve your email problem by letting you snooze some messages. An interesting email exchange regarding some of the UI choices they’ve made after the jump.

Me: Just started using it. One issue is that I sort all my Gmail with labels and those don’t appear in Mailbox meaning that a lot of junk is intertwined with important emails. So my suggestion would be to incorporate labels.

Mailbox: Hi Marat,

Thanks for your email!

As noted on our FAQ website (http://bit.ly/1bQNl8f), labels/folders are something we continue to consider how to best support.

At present, Mailbox implements and encourages a different form of email storage/filing than Gmail, iCloud, or Yahoo. We’ve found that encouraging people to minimize the use of labels has a huge benefit in terms of productivity, so our initial product only syncs labels inside of the [Mailbox] label (as seen on your Gmail, Yahoo, or iCloud web app).

For many users, relying on search and snoozes significantly reduces the need for labels and filing systems. We know this can be a challenging behavioral shift; we encourage you to try it.

We believe there are a couple of good use cases of folders (like clustering a bunch of messages that you need to tackle later at once) and a ton of bad ones (like ‘filing’ everything you’ve done and think you might want to reference someday).

If you’re interested, we’ve found the following blog informative regarding label use and tradeoffs (http://blog.jarederondu.com/mailbox-app-rethinking-labels).

All of that said, Mailbox is being designed to promote productive and transferrable behaviors across various platforms (e.g. Gmail, Exchange, iCloud, Yahoo) and clients (i.e. iOS, Android, desktop).

We understand behavior change can be difficult and we do appreciate your feedback. Mailbox is a constant work in progress, and user feedback will influence how it’s shaped.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks for using Mailbox!

Me: I understand your points, but I disagree. Let’s see if you understand mine. It isn’t about changing behavior. Most people, like me, simply get a lot of email that isn’t really important at all. I simply don’t want to have to sift through it all the time. I go and look at it once in a while when I have the time. I want to sift only through emails that are addressed directly to me by real people. I also have a system where all my emails go through my own server and get assigned labels like “personal”, “finances”, “shopping”, etc automatically because I actually use different email addresses. With Mailbox all of a sudden all that email that was nicely separated is now in one giant pile. That certainly doesn’t make me more efficient. Quite the opposite. All the junk I normally don’t even look at unless I want to now gets in my way.

This was pretty much the end of our conversation. They thanked me for the feedback and told me to feel free to suggest anything else.

What do you think? Has Mailbox solved the email problem for you or made it worse? For me personally the lack of labels became a non-starter, as it totally blows up the rather well oiled system I’ve been using for years.

Comcast’s Tivo an Example of How Not to Do It

Logo of Comcast

Image via Wikipedia

Ever since I’ve decided to check out Comcast‘s Tivo product I’ve regretted my decision.

Aside from a UI that has major flaws (surprising since I’ve heard good things about the standalone Tivo UI) it’s incredibly unstable. The thing crashes more often than an average NASCAR driver resulting in a user experience that makes you want to throw the whole box out the window.

Speaking of windows I’m starting to wonder if it actually runs on the infamous Windows Me. Imagine settling in to watch something you set to record only to be met with a frozen startup screen and the realization that your show, movie or sports event did not record, having to reset it and wait 5 minutes just to be able to watch live TV.

Aside from the box crashing as if that is its full time job entering the On Demand menu is like playing lottery. Will it load or will it display an error, which will once again force you to restart the box? It’s quite a fun little game of chicken.

The box’s response to remote commands is like that of an elephant being poked in the rear with a blade of grass.

Lastly, the TV guide can only look four days into the future and there’s absolutely no way to tell how much space is left on your DVR‘s hard drive until something you had recorded and really wanted to watch gets automatically deleted to make room for a new recording. Major fail.

I’m not sure who made the decision to release this obviously half baked product into the wild, but that is a great way to alienate your customers. The lesson here is that it’s better to release a product late than before it’s ready. Releasing it early is how you kill a product’s reputation. Killing a good reputation is very quick. Recovering it is nearly impossible or takes a very long time.

When a Comcast technician came to install it he was so acutely aware of the fact that this thing was total crap that he warned me against getting it and asked a few times if I’m sure. I told him to go ahead because I really wanted to check it out. The only thing I’m sure of now is that I want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Reports of Death of The Electric Car Were Greatly Exaggerated

You might have seen the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?“. It’s a bit of a sad story of how GM killed their own production ready, not so clown car looking, not so inferior to its gas guzzling brethren performing creation a few years ago.

That was back in the days when GM was not so bankrupt and saw its future in producing Humvee knockoffs.

But who said the electric car was killed?

Thanks to these beauties from automotive startups Tesla and Fisker (available in 2011/2012) it’s very much alive and kicking. Reportedly, GM itself along with Nissan and Ford are also along for the ride.

A List Apart Article: In Defense of Eye Candy

Finally, a great article in defense of aesthetics in web design. While usability is extremely important I feel that its importance has been taken to an extreme in recent years, to the detriment of appealing design, and the field has been flooded by non-creative types who hide their lack of creativity and skill behind the cloak of scientific approach. This has resulted in a multitude of cookie cutter websites almost entirely devoid of visual appeal.