Microsoft uses the Gmail Man to bludgeon Google's messaging efforts, while Google stages email interventions to lure users from Microsoft Live Hotmail and Yahoo Mail.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have
just completed another salvo in their ongoing Web-based email war.
Microsoft at a recent conference aired a video denigrating
Gmail as a snooping application. One week later, Google is offering to stage
"email interventions" for users who need rescuing from Microsoft
Live Hotmail and other older Webmail apps.
Microsoft July 20 played a humorous video of the "Gmail
Man" at its Microsoft Global Exchange sales conference for 12,000
attendees, according to
The unflattering clip, billed as the "opposite experience" of Microsoft's new Office 365
cloud computing suite
, seizes on hysteria that dates back to 2005 by depicting
Gmail as a messaging front for one big user data snooping operation.
That activity is exactly what Microsoft went after with
"Gmail Man," a mock mailman covered in the Gmail messaging logos who
snoops users' messages. The video shows Gmail Man searching for keywords like
"burning" and "sensation," in a female office worker's
One more memorable line from the video's jingle is: "His
ads are unsolicited based on what you type, makes you want to ditch Gmail and
go Office 365."
Gmail launched to beta April 1, 2004, and the company was
soon accused of using the service as another excuse to deliver users ads based
on their messages.
Google was cautious about rolling ads out on Gmail even
though it always had the capability to do so. Now more ads than ever run in
Gmail, using algorithms to match up marketing messages using keywords in users'
Former Googler Cedric Beust commented
about the Microsoft marketing message on his
blog (via Google Operating System
"It was a fascinating angle in 2005 while Gmail was
still new and under all kinds of scrutiny, but today, who cares that your e-mails
are automatically scanned, really? Even before Gmail, ISPs already had the
ability to read all your e-mails, but it has never really stopped anyone from
using the e-mail service of their choice. I predict that this ad will get
people to talk more about Gmail than the product it's promoting (starting with
Speaking of getting more people talking about Gmail, Google
July 27 began officially encouraging its users to stage "email
The idea is to get users to import contacts from Microsoft
Live Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and other Webmail apps into Gmail. Two of the hooks include the fact that non-Gmail users can't conduct video chats or make calls, two distinct features in Gmail.
Here's how it works. Concerned friends of non-Gmail users
navigate to emailintervention.com
, sign in and identify contacts who aren't on Gmail, or type
in users' email addresses.
The intervener then pick one of three intervention
message templates ("straightforward," "concerned" or "embarrassed")
and adds his own intervention video if he chooses. Finally, the user sends
the "customized email and follows up as needed." (See the
instructional video here.
It's tempting to conclude email intervention is a return
salvo from Google, the latest of many skirmishes between the companies. However, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK email
intervention is not a response to the Gmail Man portrayal.
Still, the timing
lent itself to another interesting salvo in the Microsoft-Google war over cloud
computing. Google finds its Google Apps increasingly under fire from Microsoft,
whose Office 365 just launched a few months ago.