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How is Gmail different from other email services?

How is Gmail different from other email services?

Can you please let me have details on Gmail and why it is different from other mailing accounts?
AnnaRox

To understand how Gmail is different from other email services, we need to go back in time to the day when it was officially announced. Gmail not only changed the free email landscape but also the internet as a whole. And there are many things that make it special – the initial launch, the bundled free features, periodic improvements and additions via Gmail Labs.

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The Gmail launch

The Gmail launch strategy is what every marketing department would love to implement and many still try to replicate. It’s hard to believe that something as bland as “email” could be used generate such fervour! Gmail’s launch is all about taking a simple thing, adding a special ingredient and then keeping it just out of reach.

Also, the controversy of Gmail not respecting the subscribers privacy – the displayed ads were based on contents of the email – simply ended up creating a mystical aura around the service and helped in the overall marketing process. Read Gmail ads and privacy issues if you want to know more.

The special ingredient in the Gmail service was the gargantuan 1GB storage space. You might scoff at this today but in 2004 the competition was offering only 2-10MB; a small fraction of what Gmail was set to have. The people at Google knew there were up against established competitors such as Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. They had to do something to make their email service standout. So the think-tanks picked up “storage space”. The launch date – 1st April 2004 – was itself is memorable!

Gmail vanity car plateThough Gmail email accounts were free, they were not available immediately to everyone. You needed to have a special invite in order to create your Gmail email address. The hype that was built around the service could be gauged from the fact that on ebay.com, Gmail invitations were being sold in excess of $100. Owning a Gmail email account was a prestigious thing – a vanity plate that you could flaunt around.

FYI, Gmail is now open to everyone and you can quickly get a free Gmail email address in a few minutes without the special invitation.

How is Gmail different (better?) from other email services?

Storage space aside, all Gmail email accounts come with features that are either not free or non-existent on other services – read Gmail features if you want to know more. Here is a quick list anyway:

  • Storage space: The 1GB initial offering on Gmail has been increasing over the years – its now close to 7GB. But Yahoo! ended this fight by providing unlimited storage space and Hotmail has followed suit. So will you ever get unlimited space on Gmail? Read to know more.
  • Email attachment size 25MB: Yahoo and Hotmail offer the same now.
  • Free POP3 access to download Gmail email to your computer. Uses need to upgrade to Yahoo! Plus (costing $20 annually) to avail POP3.
  • Free IMAP access. Not available on both Yahoo! and Hotmail.
  • Free email forwarding
  • Customization of the interface: You can use one of the available Gmail themes or use your own colors and create your own theme.

What Gmail doesn’t have

  • Folders: Instead of folders for email organization, Gmail has “Labels” which, in my opinion, are kind of confusing to the newbie. But you can quickly get the hang of organizing messages using labels.
  • Email stationery – free Yahoo stationery is what makes that email service special.

So is Gmail the best service?

I have already written in detail on this issue. I think Yahoo is the best email service ever even though Gmail has loads of great features. I suppose Yahoo! Mail appeals to many users as it’s more fun to work with. “Which is the best email service – Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail?” is another article if you are interested.

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