On opening my browser this morning, my default tabs opened as normal, both Gmail and Google IG appeared. (Has this page got a proper name (and I'm not talking about the generic "personalized homepage" crap, and if not, why not!) Note that Googling for "personalized" or "personalised" returns this page is the number one result...).
Now, I noticed something a little different, but couldn't really pinpoint exactly what. It just seemed the names on the tabs were more cramped. After checking my email I thought to myself, has the logo icon always looked like that. Something had changed. I haven't got a photographic memory, but something was different. Then I noticed a red link in the top right hand corner... Google Mail in the UK.
The resulting information page starts off with...
You may have noticed the Google Mail logo. We are changing our service's name in the UK. Starting October 19, 2005, all new accounts will have @googlemail.com addresses.
Well, I certainly had noticed, but I wonder how many more people have... It's all to do with copyright issues within the UK.
Now, reading "What this means for our users" it seems a little confusing. Existing users don't need to change a thing. New users, signing up in the UK will be given the domain extension of @googlemail.com. It mentions that you can sign up with the same username with an @googlemail.com address. However, just before this it says
We would love to say that your address will always remain the same. But the trademark issue is still unsettled, and unfortunately, we cannot predict what the other party or the courts might do here.
Now, this is confusing for me. Which is it going to be, because it can't be both. You can sign up with existing usernames, but they might be forced to change the @gmail.com accounts in the future... what will these be changed to?
I think new accounts shouldn't be able to have existing usernames, just like you can't duplicate usernames for other accounts on other services. Also, @googlemail.com as an extension for an email is a little too long for my liking - @gmail.com, @yahoo.com and @hotmail.com are all relatively small.
A while back Gmail moved over to http://mail.google.com from gmail.com, which, incidentally, now redirects to the former. This change could of been for a number of reasons. Two which stand out for me are, first, to bring the service inline with their others, such as Google Images and Google Groups, both of which have their own subdomain.
Secondly, I often find myself typing the first few letters (or even just one) of a website and letting the browser auto-complete fill in from previously visited websites. Now, I also have a Yahoo! mail account which is found at http://mail.yahoo.com. I only rarely check this account, but I simply pressed 'm', down and enter to visit it. However, craftily, now it takes me to Google Mail/Gmail... just coincidence? I doubt that very much.
My conclusion: I think Google Mail should be called just that. It's a descriptive title and keeps it inline with their other services. Gmail was fun, as a beta name, but I think it's time for an official release. Note, I'd still like to keep my short and catchy @gmail.com email extension. Ideally email sent to @gmail.com or @googlemail.com would both go to the same user.
And, bring it out of beta will ya!