I was pretty slow to hear about Gmail for Domains. Basically, it’s email hosting from Google.
Ordinary Gmail accounts allow you to set your “from” address. It works but results in a somewhat cludgy “from email@example.com on behalf of Matthew Revell” being shown in many email clients. Gmail for Domains entirely takes over from your web host’s email service. Whenever someone sends email to your domain name, their ISP will be directed to Gmail’s servers rather than those of your web host. The result is that Gmail is now your email host and your email software.
This morning, I was pleased to receive an invite to the beta programme. Unfortunately, there are two major issues that prevent me from using it:
- no email forwarders
- no way to regrade an existing Gmail account to a Gmail for Domains account.
The first of these appears not to be an oversight but a deliberate decision. Instead, Gmail for Domains has nick names. Like forwarders, these are not mailboxes but forward on any email they receive. Unlike forwarders I’ve used, the destination addresses are limited to existing mailboxes set up in Gmail for Domains.
The only rationale for these “forwarders-lite”, that I can think of for this, is that it will help Gmail avoid having their outbound SMTP servers blacklisted for spam. Any email received by a forwarder, spam or otherwise, is sent on by that host’s outbound mail cluster. In the eyes of spam blacklist managers and other hosts, those spam emails are now sent by the provider of the forwarding service. So, if Gmail for Domains offered true mail forwarders, the Gmail for Domains outbound mail cluster would be sending out any spam received by those forwarders, and so risk becoming blacklisted.
Their crippled version – nick names – means that they only forward spam internally. If that is the reason, it’s a pretty big sacrifice to ask of domain owners. However, they appear to be targeting SMEs (based on the tone of language and limit of 25 mailboxes), who may have less use for forwarding.
Not being able to convert an existing Gmail account to a Gmail for Domains account is simply frustrating. The Gmail service works well for many and, I imagine, existing Gmail users will form the bulk of Gmail of Domains’ early adopters. Having to leave all those many megabytes of email and stored contacts is a pretty big barrier to conversion.
Oh, and here’s a get-out: if the service does have full forwarders and a conversion path, they need to communicate it more effectively