I find it surprising that all the media attention and discussion about Gmail deals almost exclusively with the email service, the threading, the text ads, the labeling, and basically ignores the search. Google’s big thing was that you would be able to use a powerful and proven search engine to search your mail, and I, personally, would love this ability with my current 200MB mailbox.
But will Google’s email search be as good as it’s web search? Google web results are based on hugely complicated algorithms that began with PageRank, basically an innovative system of ranking results based on who else has linked to them. If CNN links to your site, and lots of people link to CNN, then your site is probably somewhat relevent. Of course Google is constantly fighting with people who manipulate their rankings by making all kinds of fake links. And the blogging phenomenom also chhanged some of the “standards” of linking.
But email, where does email link? I don’t think that the few links I send and receive through email are going to be very useful for the GoogleBot. I don’t think that email really works the same way. The labelling ability (as opposed to folders) might help with searches, but I don’t know how much. What has been lacking in every single review of Gmail, however, has been any talk about the search function, and if it’s any good. Especially since it doesn’t really support any kind of advance search features, such as regular expressions, which are very useful when you have a set of data that you have a pretty good understanding of (seeing as you’ve read it all at one time or another).