Google has announced a free email service that is fully searchable and offers 500-times
the storage capacity of Hotmail’s free service.
A trial of the Gmail service kicks off today with testers hand-picked by Google. The
web-based service will display text adverts alongside emails that are relevant to
keywords in the user’s emails.
Google announced the service in a cheekily written press release, dated 1 April, with
its too-good-be-true tone suggesting April foolery, but with no obvious indication
that the announcement was anything other than genuine (apart from claiming the service
can search in Klingon!).
A Google spokeswoman said the announcement was not an April fool.
Key features of Gmail are the ability to search all emails sent and received; 1GB
of storage, equivalent to 500,000 pages of email; and automatic grouping of email
into “conversations”, so related received and replied-to email would appear together,
eliminating the need for folders.
Google said the inspiration for the service came from a Google user complaining about
the poor quality of existing webmail services. “She kvetched [Yiddish for complained]
about spending all her time filing messages or trying to find them. So she asked ‘Can’t
you people fix this?'” said Google co-founder Larry Page.