Interesting announcement out of Mountain View this morning regarding a mobile version of Gmail that can be downloaded and installed on a wide range of phones.
Traditionally, Google has been very focused on web applications, but web applications simply don't work on mobile devices. Ignoring the mobile world would have been a costly mistake, so Google did what any reasonable company should do, they created an experience custom-tailored for the device accessing content - they built a mobile Rich Internet Application.
The new Gmail client is faster, it can download attachments which are then formatted correctly for the smaller screens, and it synchronizes email so you can view your email when you don't have cell phone signal.
This is a great step for Google, because it shows they realize the world isn't just about web applications. The web is great for delivering and even storing content, but when it comes to interacting with that content, we need an experience that fits the device we're using. If that is a PC, then it makes sense to build an application that takes advantage of the PCs strengths. We should be able to access data offline and we should be able to take advantage of the processing power by building RIAs that can focus on high quality user interfaces. In the mobile world, we need lightweight clients that are fast, don't drain the battery, and still give us the data we want.
Two thumbs up for Google, I hope we see more initiatives like this.