There’s a rumor circulating out of an article over at Silicon Alley Insider that suggest that Google is preparing to offer users an option of turning off its best known feature: threaded conversations.
Since Gmail launched back in 2004, one of the features that made it such a desirable service was that it added threaded conversations. This is a feature which allows you to easily look over an entire history of your correspondence from one sender or a group. As opposed to the traditional interface of having to hunt and peck around in your inbox to reference back to what had been said previously, this puts it all at your fingertips.
According to the rumor, this feature which so many of us have come to rely on to keep our lives organized is also possibly keeping the service from growing as users that have not yet joined Gmail don’t like threading. So it seems that Google is looking at giving users the option of turning it off so that you can have a more traditional e-mail experience while still using Google’s products.
This of course makes perfect sense from a business perspective for Google as the more people using its tools means they can serve that many more ads. As we all know, this is really what Google is all about, and you can’t blame them, they’re darn good at it.
Why I find this oddly confusing/amusing is that this is the same company that came up with Google Wave, the tool that was supposed to change how we think about e-mail, and what it would have been like if the main form of online communication had been invented now instead of 40 years ago. Instead of continuing to promote this new tool, and in turn move users over to this new interface, they want to take a step backwards in time to the oldest form of e-mail?
Even Apple is introducing a threaded e-mail interface in iPhone OS 4, but I haven’t heard of them giving you an option to turn it off. It seems consumer research is somewhat confused on what people are looking for nowadays.
What say you? Will you turn off message threading if the option becomes available?