Google to offer free email
Michael Liedtke April 1, 2004
MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Search engine Google Inc. announced it would launch a free,
Web-based e-mail service to compete against popular services from
rivals Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
Google's service, called "Gmail," will include a built-in search
function that will let people search every e-mail they've ever sent
According to company executives, users will be able to type in
keywords to sort e-mails or find old missives. And it will come
with 1 gigabyte of free storage - more than 100 times what some
popular rivals offer and enough to hold 500,000 pages of e-mail.
But to finance the service, Google will display advertising
links tied to the topics discussed within the e-mails. For
instance, an e-mail inquiring about an upcoming concert might
include an ad from a ticket agency.
For now, Google is only opening up the service to invited users
but expects to make it accessible to everyone within a few weeks,
Google co-founder Larry Page said Wednesday in an interview.
Officials at Yahoo and Microsoft's Hotmail division declined to
comment on Google's entry into a new category.
But analysts said that Google - whose technology is behind
nearly four out of every five Web searches - could shake up the
free e-mail market, which includes Yahoo and Microsoft's Hotmail.
Industry analyst David Ferris said Gmail is a logical extension
of the world's most popular search engine. But he said Google may
run into trouble if it tries to charge for e-mail eventually.
The company would not provide details of its pricing strategy,
but rivals have kept stripped versions of e-mail free and asked
users to pay annual fees up to $30 or more for extra storage and
"I know that companies offering free e-mail are very frustrated
because the consumer expects it will stay free - they simply will
not pay any money for them," said Ferris, president of San
Francisco-based Ferris Research. "Although there's a clear tendency
for these free services to offer for-fee extensions, users are very
resistant to taking them up. The level of adoption is very
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