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Gmail.com

Google's in the email business offering 1TB of storage, but here is the catch that is deeply disturbing:

"One way Google will pay for the provisioning of that 1G-byte of storage per user will be by selling advertisements that will appear next to e-mail messages and be keyed to the content of each message, Rosing said. "

http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/03/31/HNgooglemail_1.html

Thoughts?

Prakash S
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The disturbing catch is that is an April fools joke - got ya

.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Do you reckon it is a joke, the domain is there http://www.gmail.com

Matthew Lock
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Well..

The April 1 press release on google.com (no less) would tend to indicate...

April Fools.

Bleh
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

April Fools gets watered down more each year. In the coming hours we get to enjoy dozens of horribly unfunny/dated April Fools jokes on Slashdot, amongst other sites.

Regarding this `joke' in particular, I really don't see what is "gotcha!" about it. I suspect that it's actually "joking on the square" -- testing how the market really accepts it. 1GB of data really isn't that extraordinary nowadays (especially given that email is generally massively compressible), and I see absolutely nothing insidious or questionable about targeted advertisements (in fact they're the ones I mind the least). Google searching on the email repository -- well that just sounds great (given that handling email is a major problem).

This isn't as much an April Fools joke as it is market research.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/gmail.html

Happy 04/01/04.

Nigel
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

In Soviet Russia April Fools make fun of you.

Matthew Lock
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

> Do you reckon it is a joke, the domain is there
> http://www.gmail.com

Learn more about Gmail. -> The requested URL /gmail/help/about.html was not found on this server.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Hmm... Google must have a time machine.  Or maybe the company's located on the other side of the International Date Line?

As a joke (assuming it is), it doesn't seem particularly funny.  Given that 1 GB of HD storage costs maybe $1, the idea sounds entirely plausible and economically feasible.

Robert Jacobson
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

On  the other hand, this:

http://labs.google.com/personalized

looks interesting... if you don't buy in to all the 1984 stuff.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

And this...

http://local.google.com/lochp

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Exactly, Mark.  Let me get this right... a web-based email program with a lot of storage is supposed to be so ludicrous that it's a joke, but a telephone-based voice interface to Google is real and cutting edge?

http://labs1.google.com/gvs.html

(FWIW, I've tried the one-ringy-dingy interface for Google, and it's not quite ready for prime time.)

Robert Jacobson
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Am I missing something, isn't this what hotmail and yahoo etc already do?

ie add advertisments to outgoing emails?

Aussie Chick
Thursday, April 01, 2004

NB I wonder how many marketing geeks have a big red X on April the 1st....

"Must not release anything innovative on that day, no one will believe us"

Aussie Chick
Thursday, April 01, 2004

+1 for failing to see why this is supposed to be a joke?
They are already pushing a few Petabyte now, so adding a few more should be well within their possibilities.
The Google ads on your mailbox alone will quickly recoup the investment.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I don't think they can do it.
Serving storage is 2 folds: 1. Immediate storage.. 2. Backup. A 400 Gigabyte tape drive* from HP costs CAD$8,000 and change. Tapes aren't free. HDDs at 60 Gigs to 240 Gigs ranges from CAD$120 to CAD$500. Anyway it's lots of money. Even if most people only have 30 megabytes of storage (which they won't.. there are nice users ofcourse, but there are tons of abusers) it's still a lot of cost just to support 30 thousand users per server (30,000 Users * 30 Megs = 900,000 megabytes or 3 drives unmirrored) This is one of the reasons why Hotmail charges as much as they do for additional web space (not a good reason, but one of them never the less).

* Tape drive is not google's style.. they'll more likely write a software that sees the clusters of servers as one larged mirrored disk.

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, April 01, 2004

How quickly they forget....

http://www.google.com/technology/pigeonrank.html

another happy april for another happy fool
Thursday, April 01, 2004

They just mentioned it on CNBC.  Does that make it real?

Ray
Thursday, April 01, 2004

"HDDs at 60 Gigs to 240 Gigs ranges from CAD$120 to CAD$500. "

Just a small correction related to this (perhaps it's because the Canadian dollar has increased in value), I've seen 80GB drives for $60, and even in the easily found retail channel it goes from $90 for a 80GB, to $269 for a 250GB. Imagine the sort of pricing someone like Google would get calling up a large harddrive vendor and requesting thousands of such drives -- the price would likely drop to half or less.

http://www.pccanada.com/inventory.asp?cat=harddrives

The Google `joke' isn't practical given common wisdom right now, but I really don't think it's that outrageous (and wih the right business model, such as highly targeted ads and premium content such as extended search, it could work).

I suspect it's a case much like Dr. Evil : "One MILLION dollars!". <the crowd shrugs> 1GB just isn't big enough right now to make for a funny joke.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, April 01, 2004

As an aside, I'll reiterate that I think this is a market research joke, and additionally is intended as a shot across Microsoft's "bow". Do you think the MSN or Hotmail divisions are laughing at this? Google would absolutely eat their lunch based upon both their technology, and their public goodwill.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, April 01, 2004

It's a good joke. HDD's alone don't make a full running cost, its just a part of initial investment. Think writing software for that, and managing it all. Think RAID.

Just to give a clue: think about a vast amount of electricity all those HDDs will be consuming day and night.

Such service could become extreemly popular and even if most users won't use more than 10MB of space it still looks like a joke to me.

Vlad Gudim
Thursday, April 01, 2004

"It's a good joke. HDD's alone don't make a full running cost, its just a part of initial investment. Think writing software for that, and managing it all. Think RAID."

Google is very experienced at writing vast scaled out software, and obviously in search technology, so it's hardly a big economic challenge for them. Furthermore

It is a very bad joke (if it is a joke...). If you haven't noticed, most media outlets have picked it up without disclaimer or sense of irony because it is entirely within the realm of reason, especially given the relentless forward march of technology. Even if it WASN'T economically viable in and of itself (though it very well could be -- such highly targeted ads have value...couple that with Google's excellent locatoin sensing technology and you have some incredible value), from a .COM era perspective it's strategically valuable to stick a lance in Microsoft's web properties, as well as the new foe Yahoo.

The more I think about it, the more it seems completely reasonable.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Dennis,

we will see whatever its a joke tomorrow. I agree, there are a probability it is not, that's what makes it so good: it's balancing on the edge of what is real and what is still not feasible.

One more reason for it being a joke: GMail is an ugly name and out of sync with Google & Froogle.  They should have called it Moogle - I'd believe it more when.

Vlad Gudim
Thursday, April 01, 2004

In addition, neither Google Services ( http://www.google.comoptions/ ) nor Google Labs ( http://labs.google.com/ )  mention www.GMail.com.

Vlad Gudim
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Gmail may be for real, but is this one? http://www.google.com/jobs/lunar_job.html

I call shotgun!

KayJay
Thursday, April 01, 2004

If it is a hoax, then the Wall St. Journal is in on it (or got suckered) since it is in the Technology section of their online edition.  It notes 1GB not 1 terabyte.  See http://gmail.google.com/

GThang
Thursday, April 01, 2004

From CNN's article:

"But Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of the products group at Google, said the Gmail announcement was legitimate. He did concede that the company did get caught up in the spirit of April Fool's Day in its press release."

Sounds to me like they're just porting the Google search and adwords to an email client.  The GB space seems extreme, but in practice, it's probably much less costly (how many people will really use 1 GB of space for email in the short-term?  Remember, HD costs are decreasing...)

not_a_hoax
Thursday, April 01, 2004

FYI:

http://money.cnn.com/2004/04/01/technology/google_email/index.htm?cnn=yes

not_a_hoax
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I bow in respect for the Google marketing geniuses.

Jonas B.
Thursday, April 01, 2004

If google can swing it, they'll blow yahoo/hotmail out of the water, because those guys probably would have a headache dealing with a gig.  1 gig compared to 5 mb...

They'll just have to figure out how to deal with people getting multiple accounts for filetrading.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Weird, its like a meta april fools joke. The real joke was to present it like a joke even though it wasnt!

Well then, Yahoo and MSN are in for a thorough spanking I believe. Can they possibly match this? Do they need to?

Eric Debois
Thursday, April 01, 2004

What's concerning though is that when you go to the gmail.com, if you are in any way serious about signing up to a gmail.com email, you'll proabably have subscribed yourself and given them permission to spam you at a later date. It's a great way to get a lot of people's permission for very little money. They do have formidable marketing departments ;) Microsoft should steal them!

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I think google is being crafty about the "1 Gig" issue.  It is not that hard to give you "1 Gig of email space" since most email is text and hence highly compressible with compression factors as good as 95% using something as simple as zip. 

So they could end up having to just give around 100MB of real space add to that that many people would not even use this much space and it could be reduced by another order of magnitude to 10 MB which is not so bad as compared to what yahoo and msn do!

Code Monkey
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Actually, it shouldn't be hard to specify "email" to the point where email uses that basically attack google are uneconomical.  For example, transfer rates on large emails can be made slow enough that it's less effort to use some other options.

The nice thing is they don't seem out to "blow yahoo out of the water."  Rather they are accomplishing it when they could internalize what they're up to.  People do trust them...

Tayssir John Gabbour
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Well, it's now April 2 here in New York and I havn't read anything that tells me I am a "FOOL" for thinking it was true so maybe it's not a joke!

Chris Shields
Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm happy to admit - I was wrong, its not a joke.

So that's excellent.

Vlad Gudim
Friday, April 02, 2004

I wonder where else they can take this. If you're already caching content, could you offer free hosting, and pay for it with savings in spider bandwidth? It would also allow you to update the search indexes as changes are made, rather than by polling the remote server for changes.

MugsGame
Friday, April 02, 2004

Actually the "moon base" thing is still up as well.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Obviously the moon base is a wind-up.

I have it on good authority (a senior manager in Google) that Gmail is for real.

MugsGame
Friday, April 02, 2004

What?! I applied for that job this morning!

Space cadet
Friday, April 02, 2004

Well then you've got some competition:
http://userfriendly.org/

MugsGame
Friday, April 02, 2004

The idea that most email is text and therefore can be compressed, thus google is only giving away 100MB doesn't hold water. Nobody is going to be keeping half a million text messages; there's not the time in the world to write them. The space wil be taken up with people emailing photos and videos.

The reason Hotmail only offers 2MB and newYahoo users only get 4MB (old users get to keep the original 6MB) is that Yahoo and Hotmail, particularly the latter, want to force you to upgrade to their premium product and thus make life with the free product as uncomfortable as possible.

As free online storage I think the idea is great. I'm not bothered about advertising either. I have no intention of using it for anybody else's messages but my own.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 02, 2004

How many of us, as in medium to high-end, computer users _need_ a GB for email? I hate web based email. I pull all my regular email addresses off the server onto my HD. Web based email addresses are relegated to all the sites that demand one for accessing their services, and I insist that all my associates, even the casual PC users, to do the same. Makes life so much easier.

Only hitch is there still are a few who do not own a PC, but have an email id. But, Browsing Centres seem to be undergoing tough times now-a-days.

Regards

Kaushik Janardhanan

KayJay
Friday, April 02, 2004

Does anyone here know about the Gmail beta test going on right now? Is anyone here fortunate enough to be one of the testers?

John Bleau
Sunday, April 04, 2004

does this idea make the e-mail address more susceptible to spam e-mails?  just curious, although i currently use the anti-spam software Mailwasher Pro from www.firebreach.com

johnny14
Sunday, April 04, 2004

Some people were asking for more info.
I don't know that much, but here goes:

Some of the beta-testers are Google employees. I've received e-mails from them from their gmail addresses. Some are even posting on public mailing lists...

GMail uses the AdWords technology from their search engine to show targeted ads to you as you read your e-mail. That's the only advertising involved; there's none on outbound messages.

Ads give them a revenue stream that grows with the number of daily e-mails. I don't think they'll offer POP/IMAP as they'd lose the ad revenue. The 1GB limit is real, but the disk space is virtual; they'll add storage only as they need it (simple as they already have automated systems for provisioning racks of COTS hardware for indexing and caching.).

From what I hear the interface is actually the killer feature, not the disk-space. Manual Folders are not a natural way to organise e-mail; it's much better to have fast search and automated categories based on meta-data (if you've used Opera's M2 mail client you'll know how nice this is.).

Of coures the "folder problem" isn't unique to e-mail; it applies to any file-system. Longhorn is supposed to have this sort of meta-data interface natively, so HotMail may be able to fight back by adapting that technology.

MugsGame
Monday, April 05, 2004

Anyone hear anything on the Google AOL instant messaging deal?

John Bleau
Thursday, April 08, 2004

It's now clear that many Gmail beta testers will actually get 1 TERABYTE of storage.

Anonymous
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

It could also be that there will be a file size limit...that's probably the kicker...

Passerby
Friday, July 02, 2004

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