Sunday, February 10, 2013


As you can see from my tweets above - displayed in reverse-chronological order - yesterday involved waiting.

When I heard about the Mailbox app ... I was intrigued. I liked the company's other app - Orchestra - and was eager to see how their approach would transfer over to email. I signed up and got my download information ... and then waited.

I then noticed ... on Thursday, I think ... that the app was in the Appstore. I downloaded it and was instantly faced with the realisation their deployment was unusual ... and that I was going to have to wait to get my hands on Mailbox.

As you can see by my tweets above, I'll probably get access to Mailbox NEXT weekend.

2013-02-09 14.21.06

For lunch, Olly and I took the we'ans to TriBeCa ... a fab wee American-style cafe on Dumbarton Road in Glasgow. It is a fab place but way too small and a victim of it's own success at peak times like lunch on a Saturday.

We waited in the cold Glaswegian air for 30 minutes for a table-for-four. We could have eaten yummy Japanese food over at Ichi Ban or gorged ourselves at an Indian buffet in the place a couple of shops down from TriBeCa but no ... we wanted to eat there.

And it was worth the wait. The atmosphere in the cafe is wonderful - warm and bustling - and their bacon and egg bagels are first class. I'd recommend their 5-egg omelettes too. Had one of those previously and they looked divine on the plates of the other patrons.

These examples of waiting made me think. We don't really wait anymore these days. Well, we wait for trains, parcels from Amazon, and for shows to come on the telly ... but, for the most part, this is the day and age of instant.

We want an app now. We want our food now.

Regardless for the reasons given for the wait ... we see it as a delay ... as an inconvenience ... as a problem.

But is it?

I love what Nando's do. They give you a pager and let you get on with your day. 20-30 minutes is only a drag if you've got nothing else to do. With the pager, you can go and browse the shops nearby ... using the time more productively than simply waiting (albeit reading a book instead would be even more productive).

If the Mailbox app was designed to alert me when it was ready then I'd be fine with that ... I'd let it be and get on with my life ... but instead it demands my attention - I have to dip in regularly to see how the numbers have improved - and that's where the annoyance comes. Every time I look at the app I am reminded that I do NOT have it yet. It's effect is counter-productive. Instead of keeping me informed it riles me up ... like the messages I receive when on-hold to a call centre. Afterall, if my call was THAT precious to them, they'd employ more folk to respond sooner.

Mailbox talk about their willingness to scale their operation correctly. I get this and appreciate scalability this is a priority for my friends but that seems weak, somehow. I realise Google did the same with Gmail ... but they are not Google. If they wanted to scale it correctly then (a) they wouldn't have generated so much 'press' and (b) they'd charge for it ... that money being used to buy sufficient servers.

Personally, I think they are angling to be swallowed up by Google. They will demonstrate a product that Google will find irresistible ... Google will snap them up and incorporate the features into Gmail. I guess we'll see.

At the end of the day, I hope their approach to release doesn't backfire on them. That the hype DOES live up to the wait. I really do hope so. That's why I haven't deleted the app like others have ... I can wait.

Maybe that's the point? To teach us to wait. The internet has created an instantaneous culture where access is as important, if not more so, than ownership. It has exacerbated the culture of 'fast' ... that of fast food ... and taken it to the next level.

Waiting creates the sense of anticipation ... the sense of longing ... but with this anticipation and longing comes the fear that whatever it is we are waiting for will not live up to our expectations. The food in TriBeCa could have sucked yesterday. I didn't ... it was lovely ... but it COULD have and if it had we'd have been disappointed ... more so than if we'd just walked in off the street.

Waiting intensifies the disappointment. I hope Mailbox doesn't disappoint.

That said ... are we disappointed less in this instantaneous culture? I don't think so. I think we write things off quicker ... delete the app and not even bother to write a bad review ... we just move on. Is this a good thing? Possibly.

I guess the answer to this whole thing is to be mindful about what we consume ... to seek trusted recommendations and be prepared to wait for that special something that is truly worth waiting for.

Like the bagels with bacon and eggs in TriBeCa.


1 comment:

Mark said...

Interesting thoughts on waiting.

From dealing with trying to scale software myself I can understand it from that point of view. But maybe it is just all marketing. You've written a blog post and tweeted multiple times about it. A great way to generate word of mouth eh? It creates an air of exclusivity and adds some intrigue/magic.

I totally agree about the whole selling out to Google/not charging for apps thing. Why does everything on the internet need to be free? I love using Pocket and would happily pay a small amount each month but just don't see how it can be viable long term. I started using Newsblur for my RSS reading a few months ago and they charge $12/year for a premium account. That's nothing. I read somewhere (maybe Dave Winer) that if you are not paying for it then you're the product. Just look at how Twitter is changing over the past 12 months.

BTW one small qualm with your post. Nando's may get the waiting write but why would anyone want to wait any amount of time to eat there? IMHO of course :-)


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