On Gmail outage, Sergey Brin and Google's brand

gmail-down-01No matter what my mornings look like, they usually include two things: a cup of nice coffee and a quick look at my Gmail account. Today, the latter didn't materialize as fast as it usually does.

I tried to log in, but my query was transferred to the site which contained many words “sorry” in its URL. A corresponding web page displayed Google’s long apology regarding the outage.

To get a glimpse of the problem, I logged into my Twitter account to see whether the techie and geeky members of my entourage were saying anything about the Gmail outage. And indeed, there were many posts out there, mentioning the issue.

Here is a snapshot of today’s posts on Twitter regarding the Gmail outage (as of about 4 pm Brussels time). In fact, while I was making a screenshot of Twitter search results for “Gmail outage”, I had to interrupt and refresh the Twitter page every 2 seconds as new Tweets about Gmail continued to be posted. I quickly gave up, you can go ahead and have a look at Twitter, it's been exploding with posts about Gmail today.


Finally, I could successfully log into my Gmail account. Which means that in my case, I spent about 15 minutes in Gmail-less despair… Which kind of made me think that perhaps Gmail is, to me, a love mark1. Simply put, its presence makes my life much easier. I experienced the ease of use particularly strongly after my last year’s switch from Hotmail that had managed to annoy me with its looooooong page loading sessions each time I tried to log in. And Gmail's absence, well, it makes my life a bit of a mess.

Or do I have some emotional connection to the brand because 8 years ago I met Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin? I was on a bus from Heathrow to London’s city, on the way to the American Achievement Summit2 and Sergey sat down next to me. He was going to the Summit to speak about his growing company. Sergey gave me a Google T-shirt and his business card (which I managed to LOSE subsequently), and we chatted a bit in Russian.

Eight years down the road, and a minor Gmail outage, although somewhat worrying (after all, we expect perfection from the mighty Google empire), and especially people’s reaction to it (which, just look at the Twitter screenshot above, the general mood there is actually not at all negative!) are not likely to be harmful to the overall Google brand image. And I am hopeful that tomorrow, my morning routine will include the obligatory element -- a quick check of my Gmail account.

1 Get a glimpse of the concept on http://www.lovemarks.com

2 A conference organized by the American Academy of Achievement to bring together business, arts, and science leaders as well as graduate students, for the purpose of inspiring the latter, http://www.achievement.org