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Unlimited storage email accounts from Indian portals

Unlimited storage email accounts from Indian portals

First there was the announcement from Google of providing 1GB size inbox for Gmail email accounts. It was followed by Yahoo! exploding the storage space to unlimited size earlier this year. On both these occasions, India’s popular web portal Rediffmail (www.rediff.com) replied by offering the same.

Not to be left behind, two other Indian companies joined the fray and started to provide unlimited sized inboxes – Indiatimes.com, an online offshoot of the famous Times of India newspaper and an unlikely candidate, Zapak.com which is supposedly India’s largest gaming portal.

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Note: All the three companies have been actively promoting their email services through offline media – TV, signboards etc. And it is important to mention this because one of them, Indiatimes.com comes from the popular English daily newspaper, the Times of India. Though, Indiatimes.com gets an offline media source from its parent, its email service has from time to time been advertised keenly on television.

I don’t think I would be wrong to say Rediff.com was India’s first true portal. It has built a formidable reputation and offers a popular shopping section on its web site.

Zapak.com, the largest gaming portal in India, is from one of the biggest business houses of the country – the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The cash rich wallet of the parent company has resulted in a massive and aggressive promotion of the service. And I do find it rather unusual for a gaming portal shifting or diluting focus from their main business (online gaming) to free unlimited size email accounts.

India’s popular and possibly the first private Internet Service Provider, Sify.com has also increased the size of their email accounts to unlimited.

Email accounts with unlimited size – evaluating the seriousness

In this article I try to judge the level of importance or seriousness given to the free email service from these four Indian web portals. And here are some of the questions we will ask:

  • Does the email service have its own homepage?
  • Are there pop-up ads?
  • Is there extensive and intrusive advertising once you log in to your inbox?
  • Is the service ease of use?
  • IS it visually appealing?

By the way, my aim is not, (I repeat – NOT!) to judge the performance of the Indian unlimited sized email services. I attempt to answer how serious the company takes its online email service. Are these companies offering emails accounts just to attract visitors to other parts of their web site? Or are they blindly following the competition?

I thought of evaluating these online web service because I feel all of us are attached to our email addresses and since it’s been distributed to so many friends, relatives, colleagues etc., it’s loss would definitely hurt! It is the duty of an online email service to provide a basic set of functional features and ease of use to all its frequent users. In my opinion, Google and Yahoo! are two companies that take their email service very seriously. I don’t intend to draw comparisons here, however, we do need some kind of benchmark for evaluation.

Gmail at the time of writing (December 2007) offers a shade less than 6GB of inbox storage size and has its own homepage at www.gmail.com. (Wonder when Gmail would be unlimited). The interface is typically what one expects from Google – clean and simple. There are no pop-up ads… the only ones that appear are the contextual text ads in the inbox. Gmail also provides one of the best spam detectors.

The new version of Yahoo! Mail has taken the ease of usage to a new level with drag-n-drop and excellent spam and virus detection. By increasing the email account size to unlimited, Yahoo! has very smartly retained a lot of its users.

Rediff.com

  • Email address: username@rediffmail.com.
  • No homepage – if you try loading www.rediffmail.com, you are taken to the rediff.com homepage.
  • Rediff.com homepage has the ever annoying pop-up – thankfully blocked by my browser – How many use browsers without the pop-up blocking? Only a negligible few – still companies persist on popping up those ads.
  • When I successfully logged into my inbox, I got those pop-ups once again – sheeshh.
  • And (obviously) there was an ad when I logged off.
  • Had been heavily advertised as a lightning fast email service, given the fact that most users in India are still on dialup or slow connections. The service is fast alright!

Indiatimes.com

  • Email address: username@indiatimes.com.
  • Homepage at mail.indiatimes.com and it works! Wonderful! (The Indiatimes.com homepage, however, threw up two pop-up ads).
  • Couldn’t login to the inbox the day I was testing – showed a database error. Not good, especially when one is testing.
  • And on logout (when I did connect), I had a large advertisement on my browser window.
  • Touted as a new generation email service but in my opinion, it just doesn’t live up to the expectations.

Sify.com

  • No homepage. If you point to mail.sify.com, you are taken to the homepage www.sify.com.
  • A pop-up ad greets you on the homepage of Sify.com- hmmm!
  • This is the least appealing email service – visually.
  • Spam blocker leaves much to be desired.
  • And there are ads everywhere.

Zapak.com

  • Homepage www.zapakmail.com – and thankfully, no pop-ups.
  • zapak.com homepage also has no pop-ups.
  • Flaunted as very easy to use and it would be if they got rid of the news headlines and the ads when one first logs in. I would like to see a large link for my inbox or better still a list of emails received.
  • Overall, a very nice service and quite fast too!
  • Simple to use and advertised so.

So what is the conclusion? It’s the gaming portal that wins hands down – congratulations to Zapakmail.com.

Unlimited size is not the only thing

I’m sure we’ve all heard this clichĂ© – size isn’t everything! And it fits very nicely in our discussion. Unlimited sized email boxes might sound attractive, but if the service is poor, there will not be many takers.

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