Forget Google Instant, the superfast, by-letter search service. The recently released Google Apps Mail Priority Inbox is the real small-biz time saver.
Call me old-fashioned, but shaving 300 milliseconds off my day somehow stays at the bottom of my to-do list. So, as impressive a techno-feat as Google Instant is for finding Web stuff as I type, capturing those lost blinks of an eye is never going to make me or anybody else any money.
But that's not to say the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology company -- which really is what Google (GOOG - Get Report) has become; search is just a product -- cannot boast a way-cool new efficiency tool for small businesses.
In late August, the tech giant quietly popped in an upgrade to Gmail called Priority Inbox. The system adds a separate screen to your email separating the messages you want to see from those you don't.In a rare move for Google, it rolled this tool straight into its Google Apps product line. A Google representative confirmed that Priority Inbox is part of Google's emerging upgrades for collaboration tools for those who manage lots of email-based information -- in other words, small businesses. I have been testing the tool since it went live, and am here with the small-business skinny: WHAT YOU GET This is the best thing to happen to small-business Gmail since ... well ... Gmail. Google loves to play the part of benevolent, enlightened tech provider with its free, open software. For sure the company tries, but most of the time that pose is just a pose. Try syncing the miserable Google contacts database across apps, using the company's garbled voice-activated calling features or parsing out the frankly illegible transcription products to get a feel for how open, easy to use and high-performing this operation really can be.