Mailbox has finally been released in the iTunes App Store amidst much excitement and hype. The app is free and only available for Gmail right now, so no risk to download and try out, however there is quite a wait for activation, as I discuss below.
How Mailbox Changes Email
The Mailbox app aims to solve the problems created by email that was created thirty years ago without consideration of today’s needs. The developers recognized that “people [myself included] use email as a (terrible) to-do list” and developed the app to perform as an inbox where you can sort your emails by urgency, archive, and snooze the messages for later. The goal was to support your ability to get to Inbox Zero, and even rewards you with a daily featured Instagram photo when your inbox is clear.
The Queue: Genius or Problem
As great as the hype surrounding the Mailbox app sounds, I have yet to be able to use it. I am still waiting for my turn to activate the app because the genius of the app includes a fascinating promotional method for building buzz: a queue for activation that is being described as “beyond insane”.
Because I reserved my place in line a month ago, I was able to “skip ahead” in line and start with merely 45,000 people ahead of me. At the time of writing, 24 hours after downloading, I had 32,000 ahead and 582,400 in line behind me. Whether this is only a method for creating more interest is unknown, but I find it intriguing as a device for marketing. Had they told me I would need to wait another week until I could download, it would not have fazed me and also not have been memorable. However, I find myself constantly checking my place in line, comparing with my friends, and trying to determine how fast the line is moving. Mailbox describes the way they are rolling out the app in terms of a curve – over time the rate reservations are filled will increase.
Mailbox App and Labels
As quickly as I became excited about the Mailbox app, I suddenly hesitated when looking through Twitter conversations and found this:
Mailbox.app doesn't support Gmail labels? Uhh. That's an issue.
— Christopher G (@C_Goscinski) February 8, 2013
Labels are critically important to me. I use them as folders, and I recognize that some people do not think this is the right way of using Gmail, but it is what works for me. Before Gmail had the option to use labels as folders I could not make the switch and continued to use Yahoo’s frustrating email system for far too long.
Twitter and the message boards are burning up on this topic and as for me the jury is still out. I will reserve judgement until I can see how the Mailbox app works, that is if I ever get to the front of the line.