Unlimited storage space for online email accounts has now become a reality and it all began with Google’s announcement of 1GB space for Gmail accounts. This took the world by storm because in those days the storage space on popular online email services was only a tiny fraction of a gigabyte.
However, There was also something else that set Gmail apart from all other services – you could get that precious email account only if you were “invited“. Suddenly everyone wanted a Gmail email account. And the fact that it came from the world’s favourite search engine with the “Do No Evil” policy, made it more desirable.
When you got a Gmail account, you flaunted it! At one time, Gmail email accounts were so prized that invitations were sold on eBay.com!
I suppose this exclusivity was the main driving force behind the popularization of Gmail. The moment you keep something just slightly-out-of-reach, it becomes precious. Want an email with unlimited space? Do you really need it? Read on.
However, before Google could actually launch Gmail, other players including Rediffmail, a popular Indian portal, increased the inbox space to 1GB. Rediffmail email accounts were 100% free and did not require a special invite. Soon other providers followed and started offering a large email account with lots of inbox space to their users.
Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and AOL were the three services that were badly hit by Gmail’s ever growing user base. Why? Because they were the most popular ones before Gmail came into the picture. Yahoo! was the fastest to react because, I guess, they were (and probably still are) quite serious of their online free email service. Having thrown in the towel, as it were, in the fight with Google for web search, Yahoo! didn’t want to go wrong again. Not only did they enlarged the email inbox space but also added nice features and enhanced usability.
The race to provide large email accounts that started with Gmail has now finally ended!
Yahoo! on their anniversary announced unlimited email space for Yahoo! Mail users. And this was coupled with the new version of the service that had a really nifty interface, ease of use like drag and drop, intelligent spam detection etc.
But now Yahoo! Mail isn’t the only one with unlimited inbox space. Three popular Indian web services offer the same – Rediffmail, Indiatimes and Zapak. How serious are these companies about their online email service is something I discuss in another article.
Actually, there is no such thing as “unlimited space”. If you put together all the hard-drives in the world, the total storage space would not be “unlimited”! But I suppose it definitely sounds better than 50 GB, 100GB or whatever.
So if you want to store unlimited data, will you be allowed to do it? Yes, and I don’t think I am wrong. As long as you have the energy and your whole life time (which will not be sufficient) to keep storing emails.
Let’s take a step back. Do you really think the sole criterion for using an email service or it becoming popular is the unlimited storage space? After all how much inbox space does a person need?
The 1GB space did help in making Gmail popular because it was a lot more than any other service at that time. But let us not forget that it was the exclusivity, the Google stamp, simple interface and ease of use that made it appealing.
To attract new users and retain present ones, an online email service needs to put in much more than simply offering unlimited space for the inbox. Users, in general, are attached to their email addresses; it would be unwise for any one to keep changing their address. As long as the storage space is sufficiently large, other aspects of the online email service become more important. In my opinion, online free email service providers should look at improving existing features or adding new ones that increase functionality and productivity such as:
Ironically, Gmail email account storage space is still not unlimited (it’s a shade less than 6GB, at the time of writing), it is still a lot and Gmail has all the above features. So I don’t think Google would be much worried of competitors offering unlimited space on email accounts. It has already set up a loyal user base that might not shift to another service so quickly.
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