I don’t mean your personal Gmail account, or an iPhone app for Gmail.
I mean using Google Apps as an invisible email provider for your small business or even large business. For instance, when you send mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, that mail is processed by Google Apps Mail. Same for mail to anyone else here at kk.org, or Quantified Self, etc. Behind the scenes of my own domain names Google does the mail.
You can think of this as a custom Gmail account. It gives you several advantages.
* Google does a fantastic job of filtering spam. It gets 95%, with no false positives. (I then apply a second Baysian filter with SpamSieve, to give me almost zero spam and zero false spam. For me there is no spam problem. Gone!)
* While I normally read my mail on my “desktop” client, I can access my mail on the road from any computer in the world (with the usual precautions) by logging onto Google Apps (not the Gmail url).
* I have an indefinite backup of my mail on Google’s servers, worry free. I’ve used this backup more than once.
* Yet I still retain my own domain named email without it being a generic Gmail account. You can run yourbigcompany.com through Google Mail Apps.
* I don’t have to run a mail server or keep software and security updated.
* Once I set it up (five minutes) this setup applies to everyone in my office/organization who also gets his/her mail at these domains.
* It’s free.
Before Google starting offering this free “custom Gmail app” as part of their App suite including Google Docs and Google Calendar (which are also fantastic cool tools), I gained some of these similar results by forwarding all my mail through my free ordinary Gmail account and then back to me at my own servers. That hack worked, but this new custom mail app is much easier to setup, maintain and use. I first became aware of it when my wife’s work (Genentech) moved their entire 10,000 employees’ mail to a custom Google Apps system. Now you can too. It is part of the migration onto the “cloud,” especially for small businesses.
Google Apps Standard edition is free. Larger institutions and corporations switching their email over to Google Apps may want the paid Premium Edition ($50 per user per year) with more perks, features, storage and support.