Boomerang: It's better to build on top of Gmail than Facebook or Twitter
It seems like every startup is either building a photo-sharing application, an "enterprise" tool that only looks like a consumer product, or an email app. That last category has been particularly active these last few months, with everyone from Mailbox and Triage to Boxer and who-knows-who-else trying to help you manage your email from your iPhone.
Boomerang's newly-launched mobile email client wants to be a little different. It doesn't want to turn email into a chat-like experience. It doesn't want to help you get to the elusive "inbox zero." It doesn't even really want to make it easier to send messages. Instead, Boomerang's app wants to make it easier to get the experience you're used to on the desktop onto your smartphone -- and it's doing so on Android instead of the iPhone.
Android allows the company to rapidly deploy, iterate, and refine its mobile product, says Baydin (the company behind Boomerang) CEO Alexander Moore. It's also an "under-served" market, he says, which might allow Boomerang to stand out amongst a sea of email applications designed for the iPhone.
"This is the first time we've ever been able to actually control the full experience of a product. Building inside of Gmail you have to fit with Gmail, right?" Moore says. "They do a great job, but it's really delightful to be able to build that experience completely from the ground up and have it work the way you want it to work." Within reason, of course -- Boomerang for Android relies on Gmail, as does Boomerang's desktop service.
While others might be worried about relying on Google's platforms, especially after the company killed Google Reader and moved its messaging platform, Hangouts, to a proprietary format instead of its predecessor's open protocol, Moore says that Boomerang is better off relying on Gmail than it would be relying on something like Facebook or Twitter.
"The beauty of Gmail -- and email in general -- is that it's open," Moore says. "Everything else is proprietary, in a sense. Facebook is completely proprietary. Twitter is proprietary in many ways, and so are many other services." Harming the many products and services built on top of Gmail would be more difficult than, say, Twitter's decision to kill many third-party clients. "I think it's a net positive for us to be building on top of platforms with email instead of using a proprietary API," Moore says.
Though, of course, there's always the problem of Google copying some of Boomerang's features, introducing a similar-looking app on Android (and iOS), or otherwise obviating the features Boomerang relies upon to differentiate itself from the email experience available on every device capable of running Gmail's Web app. Or, as Bryan Goldberg put it after the release of Mailbox, the trouble with every email app is:
They end up being a fling.
Users fall in love with them for a few weeks, talk about their romance with all of those old clichés — “you’ve changed my life” or “I’m never going back” — but we know how this ends. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.
At some point, every user will have that revelation — true love and monogamy are more powerful forces than the Tech world wants to admit. We have two very good applications for mail — Apple and Gmail — and both of them will release a “snooze” feature within the next few months. And, when they do, we will fondly remember our brief romance with Mailbox. Boomerang is hoping to be different by building for Android instead of the iPhone. By introducing a product complementary to one that -- hey! -- already makes money. By bringing proven features to a new platform, which Moore says has been the No. 1 request for Boomerang customers for some time. We'll just have to see if that's enough.
[Image via newgengeek.blogspot.com]