The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

DOWN WITH THE G
what's in a name
Among all the trademark battles that Google is fighting, the one over Gmail is probably the most troubling for the company. The search king is in fourth place for the race to register the "Gmail" name, putting its claim in some jeopardy.

I'm thinking that they'll still get it if they really want it, but will have to pay through the nose. Either they'll have to grease the wheels with the trademark authorities and the other claimants, or else will have to heavily pay off one of the three claimants in front of them to buy it from them.

A couple of things come to mind:

- As I mentioned regarding the Froogles.com dispute, it's surprising that such a gee-whiz tech company, whose whole business is based around information retrieval and research, would be so negligent with its own product development. It doesn't bode well for Google's operating ability as a public company--assuming the IPO ever gets off the ground.

- I'm wondering why Google felt compelled to create a new, distinct brandname for its email offering in the first place. Why not offer "@google.com" addresses? Or, if those are reserved for corporate employees (instead of something like "@googleinc.com"), then "@googlemail.com" would work. A mass market so enchanted by all things Google would be delighted to have the name in their email address. "Gmail" seems too abstract. The desire to have a short domain name is understandable, but I think it's offset by the equity in the Google brand.