Gmail's "Shoot First, Apologize Later" Strategy

Our office is buzzing today about the new Gmail feature that recommends people you should CC. For PR people, and I assume a lot of other business people, this feature is a trainwreck waiting to happen. They should have called it the, "S@#t, I really just sent that email to you?!" feature.

I admire the gumption of Google to just add a sweeping new feature to millions of customers' inboxes under the radar. I did some digging into how to disable it (I'm a hacker wannabe), and found tons of really, really angry people sounding off in forums like this one. Looks like an unintentional PR mess is brewing--people have to proactively complain to Google to get their Gmail back to normal. Part of me thinks Google should just leave it in and force people to adapt.

So when is it okay to shoot first and apologize later?

Let's face it--new features rock people's worlds. Sometimes in a bad way.

We've seen Facebook unapologetically change its interface several times, sparking a ton of protest pages. But they don't change. People seem to have the illusion that they control their experiences with technology. Instead we're relinquishing our control to the innovators, and they dictate what our experience will be. It's kind of scary, but really a cool thing.

What do you think? Shoot first, apologize later? Or cautiously creep something disruptive into the market?

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