GMail is rolling out a new feature to some users that makes it easy to import contacts and archived emails from other email accounts, with other providers, into your Gmail account. The feature is powered by a 3rd party service called TrueSwitch and it really is a breeze. The feature was announced this Spring but the roll out has been slow and many users are seeing it for the first time today. Some still don't see it.
Users are required to give TrueSwitch (through a Gmail interface) the username and password for the old account, then import can take a few hours or days. I pulled in contacts from an old Hotmail account and am now waiting to have them arrive in my Gmail contacts list.
Dear Internet, please offer features like this at every website. The ability to pull in contacts and data from one service provider to another is the dream of data portability. It enables users to try new services, prevents them from being locked-in to old ones, promotes competition between service providers and generally makes the world a better place.
Not all Gmail users can see the new Import feature but over the next few weeks that will probably change.