Monday, April 05, 2004 - Real Time: Google Gives Free E-Mail a Much-Needed Shake-Up - Real Time: Google Gives Free E-Mail a Much-Needed Shake-Up "Gmail, as currently described, would shake up the free-e-mail backwater, due to two radical parts of the offering.
The first surprise: The service provides 1,000 megabytes of storage. For free. That's enough for 500,000 pages of e-mail, Google says. It's a lot more space than we have in our crammed work e-mail boxes, and loads more than free services from Hotmail, which offers a miserly 2 MB, or Yahoo Mail, which boasts of "4 MB storage -- up to twice as much as other free e-mail providers!" Or, now, as little as 1/250th of another.
Also surprising -- and scary, to some -- is Gmail's planned business model: to serve text ads on the e-mail messages, keyed to content. Write your sister about mom's interest in gardening, a Google executive told the Washington Post, and an ad for a garden bench pops up. That naturally upset privacy advocates, who argue that such ads effectively mean Google will be monitoring members' messages.
Google says that its policies and rules mean that users' messages will remain private. As opposed to the controversial Plaxo or Microsoft's much-maligned Passport, we tend to believe Google: It pledges to "do no evil," and the moment it does, it's sunk."
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