Moving the needle in email
I ran across an article from Gabor Cselle, CEO of reMail and former VP of Engineering at Xobni that touched on some thoughts on email that I have blogged about previously. Here is the relevant text from the article:
The lack of innovation in email is because the underlying protocols suck. If you have a great idea about how to use or display the data in Twitter, all you need to read is the Twitter API docs. If you have a great idea in email, you need to know MIME (the encoder), SMTP (the message protocol), IMAP or Exchange (the access layer), and your email client (the viewer). The email technology stack is huge, wobbly, and antiquated.
Take IMAP: a hugely inefficient, stateful protocol with an ugly message format. State-of-the art in the late 1990s, yes, but if you were to reinvent it today, you could do a much better job.
We need to make it easier to innovate around the mail client. We could rip out everything (maybe save for SMTP) and build a great new stack that allows fast iteration. Make it easier to move the needle in email, and the needle will move.
My take on saving email was to envision things as a web messaging protocol that solves the same problems that email was designed to solve, namely one-to-one and one-to-few communications. The difference is that email would become a Web API that is easy to work with and integrate into other platforms. The problem that email solves is no less relevant today than it was years ago when it was first developed. Twitter, Facebook and Google Wave are not really targeting the same problem. Twitter shows us that when we open up simple APIs, the community will move the needle.