Mailbox: Revolutionizing E-mail by Forcing You to Wait In Line

FIVE THôT columnist and Editor Rocky McGredy gives us his view on the world in weekly doses.

Surely by now, you’ve seen some sort of mysterious screenshot in the midst of your social media feed. By looking at the screenshot, you’re able to see 2 things: 

     1) The line is very long. 

     2) The app is some sort of email app.

If your curiosity hasn’t been piqued already, then allow me to de-mystify for you. The app is called mailbox, and it promises to change the way we interact with email on a modern smart phone. 

The problem is: not many people have really gotten to experience the “e-mail revolution” yet, because mailbox is forcing (pretty much) everybody to wait in line to use their “awesome new app.” According to the folks over at Orchestra Inc. (the makers of mailbox), people need to wait in line in order to, “provide a robust, world class email experience.”

The amount of knowledge I have about how apps work is limited, but here’s what I know: third-party apps on iOS essentially need to “sandbox” everything the app utilizes, meaning that the feature set built into the iPhone is not immediately accessible to the developer. Basically, Mailbox needs to have servers set up that will ping Apple’s every time a push notification is sent to your phone– as well as store your account settings, and ping the email service providers servers every few minutes to check your inbox. So, mailbox’s excuse for making you wait in line is plausible, but I’m still pretty skeptical.

Here’s the thing, there’s been a ton of buzz surrounding this app for months. Orchestra has been extremely transparent through their entire development process, and people have been able to queue up since before the release. Which, as far as I know, means that Orchestra should have had a rough idea of how many people were going to download the app on day one. If it’s being able to scale appropriately that you’re worried about, then shouldn’t that be all of the information you need?

Maybe I’m being paranoid, maybe I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. What I do know is this: the moment I open up Mailbox for the first time it says something along the lines of: “Hey, welcome to this line with hundreds of thousands of people in it. Would you like to tell your friends on social media that you’re stuck in line?” Hmm, why would I want to do that, Mailbox? Possibly to give you some free advertising while I’m stuck in a ridiculous virtual line? Oh, and why am I able to watch the line move in real time? Are you building servers all-day, every-day?

I use the built-in mail app for the iPhone, and you know what? It works pretty well for me. Sure, I may not be able to “snooze” messages for later, but I don’t really care. If I don’t have the time to read an email, then I don’t read it. It stays unread, and I check it later. It’s not a huge deal. My point is, I don’t need to wait in line for a different experience when I don’t really think the old way of doing things is broken. Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. I’m not gonna wait in the ridiculously long line for the Indiana Jones ride, I’ll get the FastPass and come back later.

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