Friday, May 14, 2010

Would you pay for this service?

Here's a service idea that came up the other day on Hacker News: automatically labeling your mail in Google Mail.

I have quite a lot of experience in this area having created POPFile for this purpose and then sold a commercial version called polymail.

But with the rise of Google Mail, and with the safety of OAuth, I'm wondering whether there are people out there who'd pay some small amount of money per month to have their Google Mail automatically labeled.

The service would work like this: you'd sign up and give me OAuth access to your Google Mail. Within Google Mail you'd label mail as you see fit, but in the background service X would be watching and learning. As new mail arrived it would automatically label your Google Mail based on what it had learnt (imagine waking up to a mailbox full of pre-labeled mail).

If it made a mistake you would simply change the label on a message and service X would update its machine learnt view of your labeling habits.

So, would you use this? How much is this worth to you?


Dave said...

You can already do this for free by setting up triggers within Gmail.

John Graham-Cumming said...

Hmm. That's not actually the same thing because that's maintaining a rule set for filtering, whereas what I'm proposing is using machine learning which is more flexible.

Ross said...

That's exactly what OtherInbox does.

Anonymous said...

No. I'd be happy if the service was built-in - I wouldn't be surprised if a startup working on this was bought out - but as a general Gmail user, I really don't see myself paying for this.

Joshua Baer said...

Hi John,

At OtherInbox, we built an Organizer solution for Gmail and Yahoo! Mail that does exactly what you describe.

We'll be rolling out the "multiple" categories to Gmail next week - we've got a few hundred thousand users enjoying it on Yahoo! Mail right now.

We're also in the process of implementing OAuth for Gmail (previously we needed to ask for your username and password).

Joshua Baer | @joshuabaer

Dmitriy Likhten said...

@Dave yes but you have to get it to learn vs specifying all by yourself.

@OP I would want a trial. I really don't know if there is value to it, if you convince me I'd pay. I generally don't have trouble with my email.

Things that would be nice > When I am on a mailing list which I generally don't care to read especially because of volume and I can't contribute much, I would like to have the emails archived automatically, but only those that are to me or in reply to one of my emails to go to my inbox.

These sort of situations would be useful, and maybe to pay for.

Pedro said...

No, I wouldn't. It's too similar to the automatic filtering that is already available, and even if it does make about 5% wrong, I wouldn't pay for someone to reduce those 5 to 2%. You can't do better that 98% match. And you'd have to cope with several languages as most people do communicate at least occasionally in other languages. And lastly there the safety. I trust Gmail, but would I trust a non-Google robot to see my files? Safety is the reason I wouldn't even accept such an external service even for free.

Rian said...

Hmm. That's not actually the same thing because that's maintaining a rule set for filtering, whereas what I'm proposing is using machine learning which is more flexible.

The "how" is totally irrelevant because the end result is the same (email labelled appropriately), and that's the only thing that's important to an end user. Whether a set of rules is used, or machine learning, or a magic wand... what do I care so long as my email is categorized accurately?

(I wouldn't pay for such a service.)

Amber said...

Honestly, I wouldn't pay for it.

For one, I use different email addr's for different things, so I don't even bother labelling (or just use rules to label based on where it was sent to, easy).

But mostly, I don't even care that it has labels, I don't find that it helps me be more productive anyways.

If you had a sort of smart autoresponder or something ... maybe. That would be more for a small business owner or high-profile professional though...

Ravi Rao said...

This is a great idea! I would probably use this service as long as I see a very plain privacy policy that shows that none of my data is being farmed out. Also, I'd want all services/servers/companies involved to be physically based in the US so I do have protection. Finally, it won't be on itself, but rather, on Google Apps Hosted email on my private domain.