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Gmail Adds People Widget, Another Step Toward Social

Gmail People Widget

Gmail People WidgetImage via Gmail Blog

Google is kicking the competition all over the board in some arenas (70% search share, anyone?), but there are also sectors where the race is tight or where Google is clearly losing. One good example of an ongoing race is the free webmail services battle. Here Microsoft is in the lead with 364 million users as of August of 2010, beating out Yahoo Mail’s 280 million and Gmail’s 194 million. Gmail is winning on the “massive growth” front, however; they grew 43% from 2008 to 2009 and 29% from 2009 to 2010. While massive storage and increased promotions receive some of the blame, much of Gmail’s success comes from their frequent new features. Pushing forward with this tactic, Google is adding a “People Widget” to Gmail, and inching closer to social success in the process.

What is a “People Widget,” exactly? It’s a fairly simple new segment added to the right-hand side of the Gmail interface when a message is open. You’ll see the contacts who you’re messaging and be able to start new conversations via chat, group chat, or email, but this section will also display “contextual information” about the people who you’re messaging. This includes items like recent email conversations, calendar availability, shared Google documents, and Buzz posts – despite the fact that, no, no one uses Buzz.

Which brings us to some of this widget’s significance. Buzz, Google’s fiery failure in the social arena, was acknowledged by the company; Marissa Mayer even said outright that “we haven’t gotten social right yet.” Her explanation for that failure was a need to understand how people connect with one another. This utility, while seemingly superficial, is an excellent resource for Google when it comes to understanding user connections and becoming a more trusted resource in aggregating relevant data for those in your network. On both the social and productivity front, the “People Widget” is no small matter.

Don’t see this extra in your Gmail yet? Don’t worry: It will be rolled out over the next two weeks

[via the Gmail Blog]

Category SEO
Rob D Young

Rob has been insatiably obsessed with Google, search engine technology, and the trends of the web-based world since he began ...

Gmail Adds People Widget, Another Step Toward Social

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