What's going on with Mailbox?
I've been using Mailbox almost since it's launch over two years ago. I've recommended it to many others. It's a snap to set up, offers unique ways to deal with messages, and strips away all the cruft and bloat associated with most mail programs. It has integration across mobile and desktop clients. It's backed by Dropbox. And reviews have been glowing.
But it's still in beta. Worse, though, is that each release of the desktop client introduces as many bugs — or more — as patches. One recent release crashed every time you entered an email address. Another lost the ability to attach files and images, while still another lost the ability to copy and paste! The latest release no longer supports text bullets, has a non-functioning search field, frequently forgets account info, and no longer displays images.
Beta users expect bugs — this is why we agree to use beta software in the first place. But even beta users have limits. I mean, I'd actually like to go back to the original release if I could.
As of this writing, there have been no updates on Mailbox's primary or support Twitter accounts since June, though there have been some responses to users. The most recent blog post is from April. And whereas earlier support and feedback emails were answered promptly, email replies are now scattershot at best.
Isn't this just so much kvetching?
It's true: Mailbox is free. No one forced me to use it. So let me pay! I've shelled out decent money for utilities like a calendar app, to do program, and markdown editor. Considering how critical email is to my life and career, I'd pay cold hard cash (or a reasonable subscription fee) for a great email app. I don't think I'm alone, either.
I've been considering switching to a new desktop client, but Mailbox introduced a certain mindset and workflow — not to mention account and folder structure — that's unique to the app. Moreover, and somewhat ironically, the iOS app is stable; since integration across platforms is a big part of the Mailbox experience, switching to a different desktop client is problematic. And then there's the problem of finding another client I like, one that won't vanish like others I once loved.
The developer's promise
When users sweat through a beta, it's because on some level they believe in the product and want to see it succeed. They're entering into an implied contract with the developer: "We'll use your beta — warts and all — and let you know how it's going. In return, we ask that you keep improving things. And whatever you do, don't leave us hanging!"
Mailbox has left us hanging.
I might not seem to be an optimist, but I am: I'm passionate and critical, but I absolutely believe things should — and can — be better. If I didn't, I wouldn't work in UX.
Mailbox, you can do better. Fix your app, or at least let us know what's up. In the meantime I'll stick around a little longer...but only a little longer.