Thursday, June 5

Killing Insert Invitation on Gmail must be STOPPED!

Gmail Users -

While the world has many other things more worthy for you to consider,  I'd like to put to you a case of a small but powerful feature that has been maligned and statistically considered not worthy of continuing being part of our day-to-day Gmail life.

Granted, you may never have seen this feature (and according to the stats, you are 99.999% likely not to have), but I would ask you to help right a wrong that I think is happening.  This feature is incredibly powerful, useful and worthy of your support.

Insert Invitation PopUp Window
This feature?  Insert Invitation.

You might think - why do you care so much about this feature?

Truthfully, it is because it is one of my frequently used features both for work and my social life - due to the direct connection is has between my email and my personal calendar.

For business meetings, it is quite invaluable because it allows me to propose, in a very efficient way, a time and place for a meeting without having to go to my calendar and have to add someone via the Add Person link in creating an event.

For my personal life, it allows me to work with my friends to choose places and times to get together and have them know - and be able to have the email include the invite which means that my friend is not receiving TWO emails as you do with Microsoft Outlook or using the Google Calendar Add Person function.

Why is Google Removing Insert Invitation?

Found when you click on the Attachment paperclip
When I clicked on the Insert Invite icon on an email, seeing the message "Starting July 2014, this feature will no longer be available.  You can continue sending email invitations from Google Calendar." got me a bit concerned.

Now, while the rest of the world was very upset about the loss of Google Reader, this functionality I thought would hit the SME business community - especially when Google Apps have been working to supplant Microsoft Outlook and Exchange.  But, when I followed up on the issue, I learned this:
  • Out of the total Gmail user base, only 0.00001% of them use the feature in any 30 day period
  • Given a public accounting of 450M active users, that is 4500 users using the feature
Additionally, continuing to maintain this feature means having to support the integration between the Gmail team and the Calendar team, which means maintaining the codebase, the APIs, the testing harnesses and customer service issues to deliver the feature.

So - if you consider that engineering bandwidth is a finite resource AND that the usage numbers suggest a failed feature, you would chalk this up to a disappointment for 4500 users.  

But something about this data does not ring true for me.  Let me show you why.