I just noticed that Tim O’Reilly blogged about the Better GMail Firefox extension. As a GMail user, I think that this extension is a great addition, but it makes me wonder — how long before Google absorbs it into the core GMail application and renders it obsolete? And if that should occur, does it conflict with Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra?
Perhaps I’m speculating a bit to assume that Google would even consider incorporating all of the Better GMail features and render it useless — but why wouldn’t they? After all, they have an incentive to make GMail the best possible application that it can be so that they can continue harvesting data, targeting advertisements, making a profit, etc. Besides, there are all of those IE users who will probably want those extra features too, right?
So…would Google stealing someone else’s GMail hacks constitute any form of evilness at all, or is it fair game? When would they be crossing the line? Could Google could avoid these predicaments by handing out spot bonuses for ideas that are good enough to “steal”?