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December 23, 2004

Gmail redux? Not likely...

This blog post by Matt Blumberg caught my attention - regarding AOL's announcement of a free webmail offering.

I find the AOL news to be a "who cares?" as well - so far as their announcement details - which is not much other than intent to enter the free webmail space.

THe last high-profile entrant, Google, really seemed to change the webmail paradigm with their unique offering of 1 GB of storage space. Notice how the market was forced to respond competitively. Microsoft was forced to up the storage limit on free Hotmail accounts from 2 MB to 250 MB. They'll probably have to go higher.

At least Google's web mail entry stirred the market place and brought innovation. Open source programmers are using Gmail as a backend for file storage, photo galleries, and even blogs!

Gmail takes advantage of the same "all you can eat buffet" gamble. The average person eats only so much food. It is practically impossible to fill 1 GB full of text email.

One company has even offered to give the first user who is able to fill up his inbox with legal content and without spam a dedicated server with a Petabyte (PByte) of space. That will be one to watch!

Google also added innovation to the webmail wars in other ways as well. They introduced a unique user interface to email, sorting mail by conservations and threads (though Outlook now does this also). They group things in sense of time and space - new, old, older, oldest - small, big, bigger, biggest. Their intent on filtering mail and serving up relevant ads stirred up privacy controversy everywhere, but generated significant buzz. Finally, their viral method for introducing into the market place - uber geek bloggers bestowed with first generation Gmail accounts and earning invitations to others. A user base that feels blessed, cool and chosen. Lot's of lessons here already, and a tough act that AOL is choosing to follow.

Posted by gcrgcr at December 23, 2004 10:27 PM

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