Google’s Todd Jackson carries the weight of the web on his shoulders. As the product manager for Gmail, it’s his responsibility to make sure your inbox experience is fast, secure and always available. Jackson is also the product manager for Buzz, Google’s real-time social sharing system that launched in February and was promptly criticized over privacy issues and its “noise” problem. Talk about a tough gig.
We got the chance to ask Jackson about the inner workings of the Gmail team, what’s ahead for Buzz as far as user controls, and what it feels like to bear the collective rage of Gmail’s 140-million-plus users when the system takes a dive.
Webmonkey: Do you think we’re going to see the death of the desktop e-mail client anytime soon?
Todd Jackson: We don’t like to think of it that way (laughs). No comment! Seriously, though, we think deploying an app in the browser is something that easily makes sense to users now. They can log in on any computer, all their stuff is in the cloud. It’s just easier. And for us, we can push frequent updates and improve the product iteratively.
At Google, we run our own business on Gmail — we call this “eating our own dog food.”
Webmonkey: So do you suffer the same service outages as the general public?
Jackson: We do. When Gmail goes down, it goes down for us. That’s one of our first alerts.
Webmonkey: What happens in your office at Google when Gmail goes down?