Google had launched Gmail with 1GB storage space which was “more than 100 times” that of other free webmail services – Gmail Press release. This generated a lot of excitement and to add that extra spice, Gmail email accounts were available only through special invitations from Google employees and current Gmail account holders. Sometimes I wonder who had the first Gmail account? Was it one of the founders – Sergey Brin or Larry Page?
But it was primarily the large storage space that set Gmail apart from others. What was the competition going to do? The obvious move would be to match that… but hold on. What if companies started offering unlimited storage space?
In the April of 2005, Google started increasing the storage space of Gmail accounts as part of their “Infinity+1” storage plan. And the inbox space has been increasing ever since. I have a little under 6GB at the time of writing and come January 4th 2008, 3.3MB will be added per day to the inbox and this is ten times higher than the present rate of increase in storage space – Gmail storage increases.
However, ever since the dramatic launch of Gmail, the competition has wizened, so to say. Presumably, they think it was the 1GB space offering that was Gmail’s trump card and probably they are correct! Two of the main competitors – Yahoo! and AOL – have increased the storage space to unlimited.
So with competition providing unlimited storage space, when will Google be offering the same to Gmail users?
Probably never (though I would love to be proved wrong)! And here are my reasons:
Based on the above three reasons, I don’t think Google is much bothered about competition offering unlimited space. Gmail has already taken a big bite off the competitors and I guess we will continue to see new unique features being added to Gmail as time goes by – the latest was IMAP access. However, they would continue to increase the inbox storage space as noted above. If you are hungry for more space, you can always go to the competition and lose the cool features of Gmail or simply opt for a paid Gmail account.
Unlimited storage space from Yahoo!, AOL and now, Hotmail, is without doubts a simple marketing stunt! And this comes from a Yahoo! executive who told the Wall Street Journal that providing unlimited space was to remove the perception that Yahoo! offers less than Google.
Four Indian web companies also offer unlimited space for email accounts – Rediff.com, Sify.com, Zapak.com and Indiatimes.com. I don’t think they pose a threat to Google or any of the other popular free email service providers (MSN, Yahoo! and AOL) because they are localized and probably not up to par.
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