The case for a Firefox Gmail client extension
With average payload sizes for the new and Ajaxified and funkalicious free email providers weighing in at upwards of 300KB, is there really a case that can be made for a mail client that can be written as a Firefox extension?
It is the same UI, the same functionality, while the only data being transferred should ideally be the message content and message counts. Mind you, I am not making the case for a full fledged email client. I am taking more about something on the lines of the Gmail mobile client that already has the UI loaded within the application, saving you from downloading the same data over and over again.
The extension angle is not a silver bullet though. I can’t ever see a Microsoft doing a Firefox extension or even a plug-in for Internet Explorer. They already Windows Live Mail Desktop, which has a terribly confusing positioning as it is. Last thing they’d want is to have a Windows Live Mail Desktop Lite. Yahoo! might not want to do it because of the money they paid to acquire the IP required to power their beta product.
That leaves us with Google, which has a history of going off the beaten track with product development and features. But an XPI road to a client is not without problems, some of which read like this:
2) Encryption: Not really an issue. You can very comfortably pass back and forth the XML/JSON messages over an HTTPS connection.
4) Tough to replicate on IE: I would love to believe that there is no business angle to this, but that’s not the case. With Firefox adoption still in the sub 30% levels, it is important to have Internet Explorer support for any product you are looking to be consumed by the masses. It sucks, most of life does, so just get used to it and move on.