I agree that email is in dire need of a radical overhaul, although I am very satisfied with the features and functions of Gmail. If the following scenario could be implemented, what a wonderful life it would be!
I find that most people of my generation and younger never move much beyond email once they experience it because of its tremendous value . It has become the lingua franca of most basic PC/Internet users. I have difficulty persuading my colleagues and friends to venture much beyond email as a way of communicating or sharing information. They are enamored of Google search, but tend to stop there.
People seem to have difficulty moving to valuable Web-based tools like Google Docs and Spreadsheets or calendars because, I think, they have too many other things to grab their attention in life. Perhaps the Internet is not tactile enough for them or too impersonal. The younger generation, though, has no such qualms given the uptake of MySpace and FaceBook.
"Here's where e-mail's socialism turns from strength to weakness: It doesn't matter if the message comes from a spammer hawking Viagra, your wife asking you to pick up some wine, your boss telling the company that Monday is a holiday, or a client asking for a meeting at his office at 11 a.m. In today's inboxes, all e-mail messages are equal.
In reality, of course, some are more equal than others. Spam, alerts, and calendar items all need to be treated separately. A smart inbox would -- all in one interface -- catch spam in junk filters, display the wine reminder in an IM, move company news to an RSS feed, and intelligently negotiate appointment requests with your calendar in the background."