Having worked as a senior design lead at Google between 2003 and 2008, Kevin Fox is well positioned to know the hows and whys of Google's user experience design decisions. On the topic of Gmail, and specifically its much-derided contacts manager, Fox admits that his team just didn't have the time to completely finish the project before going live to the public. Taking blame for the inadequate and often frustrating experience, Fox says that contacts were low on Google's priority list for Gmail launch features and, moreover, they've been "sidelined ever since."
With Gmail now nearly a decade old, having opened its beta service in April of 2004, that's a long time to wait to get a truly modern way to organize the people you communicate with. There may yet be hope for improvement, though, as Google's acquisition of Sparrow has shown the company is serious about staying at the head of the email pack. A weakness of this kind would surely not be left unaddressed for much longer.