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There's A New Kid In Town

Feb 3, 2008
It's funny how things can come from three different directions and still end up in the same place. America Online pioneered the product from being a full-service Internet service provider with a browser, web sites, chat and topics. Yahoo pioneered their business by being a free e-mail provider, gathering lots of clients who needed quick and easy e-mail access, but didn't want to pay for the other privileges. Eventually, they too became a software running, chat, e-mail, instant messaging and web server. The new kid in town is Google. Google began not as a service provider or as an e-mail provider, but as a web site search engine to help people find what they were looking for. After joining with other groups, they now offer full services ranging from searching web sites and creating reminder calendars to their latest product: Gmail.

New attitude

One of the most well-liked things about the Google company is their fun and easy-going sense of humor. You can almost imagine their executives sitting around in their offices in sandals and a pair of shorts overlooking their stock options and typing out silly error messages. Whatever they do, Google has a definite new attitude for the e-mail service providing market. When you erase the spam box the message tells you, "Hooray! No more spam!" One of the most fun things about Google Gmail is their error messages. They tell you things like "We don't know why this isn't working, but it isn't." The humorous approach adds a little bit of comfort to an otherwise technical chore.

The storage

The most talked about feature of Gmail is the outstanding storage space that people can get. Each user, for their free e-mail account, gets 2500 MB of space. Having that much space will allow you to save any e-mail or as many e-mails as you want for as long as you want. It is almost impossible to run out of space. Not only can you store volumes of e-mails, you can store video or music with the amount of space they provide. The other upside comes from its easy-to-use and accessible folders. Mail can be sorted, starred and separated relatively easily. Although the screen itself is unimaginably dull, it does allow you instant access to all of your e-mail that you need to see. For people who deal with a large volume of e-mails or receive e-mails from many different people Gmail is a keeper.

The controversy

The downside to Gmail is how they afford all of that web space. In essence, advertisers pay Gmail to maintain their web space, because computers read every single word in every single e-mail, and then target advertising specifically to the words that you receive most frequently. Google promises that no person reads your e-mail. However, they're using computers to scan and log all of your keywords. While some see this as an invasion of privacy, others see it as an economic reality for Gmail to provide the most space for the least amount to the consumer. Other users proclaim that there are going to be advertisements on your e-mail anyway, so you might as well have advertisements that target things you are interested in.

Time will tell whether Gmail's innovative marketing technique to provide volume in bytes to its consumers was a good idea that will continue to net lots of customers or an idea whose invasion of privacy became a repugnant reminder of the commercial side of Internet service.
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