Gmail's email service - a joy of 'Ajaxian' implementation has set the standard in webmail for storage, speed of use and ease of use. POP3 integration, contact importing and exporting and the enourmous storage limits have revitialised what appeared to be a moribund area of the web infrastrucutre.
Personally I am also a fan of the Adword structure that fund's my email - I far prefer to have ads for tickets to the Arsenal on my screen than yet another singles or ringtone ad.
But Google's leaderhip in this field is about to be tested by the ongoing roll out of Yahoo mail's outstanding BETA and the imminent launch of Kahuna - Hotmail's new service (see Channel9 for a demo). Both applications look like they will help redefine what people think it is possible to do with a web application. Does this mean that I should abandon GMail?
The basic answer on that is still a wait and see - indeed I have a sneeking suspicion that the simple elegance of the present Gmail interface linked to the search and other tools like forwarding may keep me on the side of Google. But if I were erring on leaving there is a area of functionality that I would love to see - GCal - a calender from Google.
I would love to have a Calender that at the the end of my day was able to suggest both geographically and date constrained options to me. If my appointment were from 5-6 in WC1n then the suggestions would be for a restaurant, theatre or cinema that was local to the area and already sorted by what was on that night.
If I typed in restautrant into a appointment - GCal would add a 'Smart Tag'-like line to appear and a click on it woud return in Ajax speed a list of Restaurants (Pizza Express (1 mile), Spiga (1.1 miles), etc). So here is a hope that GCal is not too far in the distance!