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Mailbox and the Todo Protocol (harlanlewis.com)
45 points by harlanlewis on Jan 30, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

The fundamental problem with virtually all attempts to innovate in the email/messaging space is that the bar for an MVP is incredibly high. So you either have to layer on somebody else's work (GMail, Outlook) and end up strategically hampered and at best aqui-hired, or you have to slog through years of work getting your own stack to MVP level. Mail/messaging is fractal in nature: the closer you look, the more detail there is.

And we've learned over the years working on Inky (http://inky.com) that users simply, positively, absolutely will not accept a mail client that's not MVP in all the expected areas. If people can't use your mail client as their primary mail client, they're not going to use it at all. This makes delivering incremental improvements like turning the inbox into a task list very difficult -- impossible, in my view, which is why we've created our own complete client stack.

I would tend to disagree that building upon another platform like Gmail is "strategically hampered". We (streak.com) think its the only way to get users to switch to your email service - build it on top of their existing email client (gmail) and slowly start replacing pieces of the Gmail stack until they are exclusively using you.

Thats been our not-so-secret strategy from the beginning. It allows the user to slowly onboard to your product instead of making a one time "do I want to switch over my email?" type of decision which is obviously much harder.

The problem is that if you create real value, Google will simply clone what you've done. Because, by definition, they have the vast majority of the code required to do it already.

Like the UI of your product alot - I take it there isn't a way to get the frontend without hooking up to your backend (e.g. simple IMAP setup?)

What is your business model for it? Since it's free, are you parsing all the mail and providing data services to interested companies looking to mine information?


I'm not sure what you mean about using the front-end without the back-end, but Inky's an IMAP/POP client like any other; it just stores your settings in the cloud. (If you mean "can I use it without storing my settings in the cloud", the answer is currently no... at least, not yet.)

We are not parsing the mail and mining data from it, nor do we plan to. We're looking at various non-privacy-invading ways to make money but we need more real-world data to see what makes the most sense.

Yep that's what I was getting at - still not comfortable relying on an external service for email.

Well, you can point Inky at your own mail servers; your mail never enters our network.

I don't mean to speak for the OP, but I'm not particularly comfortable with that idea.

I don't necessarily know how well you are protecting them, or if your admins are able to copy my password. Even if you encrypt it, who's to say how well? What if you DB leaks, and my credentials are in the hands of the "bad guys".

It's not fundamentally terrible, but it increases the attack vector..

Actually, you do know -- but only if you read my posts and related discussion here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4971002

We're going to add this as a FAQ on the site with the next rev.

Looks neat. I just download it. Is there any reason it's a .pkg instead of a .App that can be dragged into Application folder?

Yes, the .pkg installer allows us to automatically kill a running Inky process, which would otherwise prevent installation from succeeding.

That permission is a lot. Some people may not be comfortable with this. I know some guy living in China who refuses to install anything on Mac that requires entering the password.

.pkg installers don't have to ask for the password; ours does, but we're working on changing that.

This is great, I've subscribed and are really excited about this app. This is what I've been doing for a couple now in gmail. I'm using followupcc to snooze emails that I can't deal with right now. I'm flying through my inbox by either replying to email right now or starring them. I also heavily use labels as "email collections". For instance, I have "website to check", "books to read", etc.. so as I go through my inbox, I put emails in there. When I'm on my iphone, I sendly send an e-mail to myself using the awesomely simple captio app. Oh, and shortcuts are invaluable.. e to archive, gi to go to inbox, gs to go to stared, gl to go to <insert label>, [ for "archive and next". It's my personnal hack, but I'm very excited to be using an app that abstracted all that in a more concise way.

We're not really addressing the mailbox problem with http://taskmessenger.com but instead focusing on the transfer of tasks within teams via a shared to-do list of available team tasks.

We're hoping to reduce the need for emails and at the moment are trying to be that second tool after email.

A 'twitter for teams' is a way someone described Task Messenger to me recently.

Does anybody know if Mailbox is investor funded or is it bootstrapped?

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