22 May 2004

What Took It So Long???

Computer geeks and non-geeks (like me) today see Google's latest breakthrough in webmail service as the most sensational and hottest item in cyberspace. Named Gmail, it offers to put an end to the reign of Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail by offering FREE (yes, you read that right!) webmail service that has a 1GB storage capacity.

But how sensational and how hot has it been?

Very. Reports say that "users are willing to trade everything from a kidney to medical advice -- or pay more than $150" --- just to get an account. There is now even a Gmail account-swapping site called gmailswap.com where users are offering some pretty amusing swaps just to get a Gmail account: A soprano who will sing in exchange for a Gmail address, another offers a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, shipped in dry ice, and some offer crazy promises like: "I will film a greeting to you on camcorder and afterwards will smash myself in the balls." Sean Michaels, the site creator, explains the fuss over Gmail by saying, "For lots of people, there's no rush; they're happy with their email service. Some of us, however, are over-eager for Gmail's ease and elegance. Furthermore, we want to snag a good email address before the barbarians make it through the gates. Why settle for g_r_a_m_o_p_43fp@gmail.com when you could sneak in early and nab gramophone@gmail.com?" [Washington Post report]

Wired magazine even carried an article titled, "My Left Arm for a Gmail Account ." Read it here if you don't believe me.

In another Washington Post article (click here), the Gmail hype is explained: "For something that will eventually cost nothing -- Google has not announced when the service will be available to the public -- people are willing to trade all sorts of things for the right to snag a choice e-mail. Early e-mail invitations to try the service were extended to digerati, journalists and friends of Google employees. New account holders occasionally get to invite their own friends to the service, though usually in limited numbers. Some think this looks more like a sly promotional effort by the popular search engine company than a bug test, however. Google is stacking the odds to help make sure people will sign up for the service if they receive one of the coveted invitations."

The two guys you see below ought to be congratulated. Meet Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google (and Gmail, of course!), who BBC News just described as "the type of young men most parents would dream of their daughters bringing home." Both Mr. Page and Mr. Brin are just barely in their 30s, and they're already as rich (perhaps, richer) than Oracle boss Larry Ellison.

Being young, they are daring and creative. Both have mastered the art of marketing and understands fully that there is no such thing as "bad publicity." They have the genius of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs combined, and it would not surprise me if one day these two will be the dominating figures of cyberworld. They know how to play the game.

On the negative front, critics of Gmail are asking: "Do we really need a 1000mb email account? What exactly are we going to be storing in there? Does anybody really have 1000mb of messages worth keeping...?"

My answer: YES! I am sick of my usual webmail accounts (you know these) and frequent announcements of my inboxes always reaching its limits. I hate deleting, but these accounts often leave me with no choice. Also, colleagues often send me large (as in huge) attachments which always tax my pathetic 4-6MB limits. Finally, those days are over. I am all praises for Gmail and I welcome its arrival.

Also, I'd like to thank Mr. Page and Mr. Brin for inviting me to have a Gmail account as early as two weeks ago. I even ignored this thinking it was spam, but when I realized how precious the invitation was, I was so thankful I didn't delete it.

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