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Google press release:
Speed: Gmail makes using email faster and more efficient by eliminating the need to file messages into folders, and by automatically organizing individual emails into meaningful "conversations" that show messages in the context of all the replies sent in response to them. And it turns annoying spam e-mail messages into the equivalent of canned meat.
Considering that Google handles all those cached pages, one would assume they have some pretty good compression/decompression abilities.
At about 2$ / Gigabyte, that comes to about 20 cents a user. They could buy themselves ten million users for 2 million dollars (space wise, all else being equal).
Given that alexa says that 74% of msn.com's traffic is hotmail.msn.com and 39% of yahoo's traffic is mail.yahoo.com, I believe this is a legitimate (and necessary!) move on Google's part.
[edited by: blaze at 2:01 am (utc) on April 1, 2004]
Also i think everyone underestimates just how much money google is making off adsense. I know several companies doing over a million a year. Googles grand vision seems to be to control/moniterize all information on the web, this is just another step to take them closer to that. If it is real that is...
Just think of the scamms people would dream up if they had an @google.com email address...
firstname.lastname@example.org telling you, you are spamming by using keyword X when really it's the site owner behind you in the serps.
Currently email is a mess, there need to be massive changes put in place to make email usable again. If Google are going to introduce new tech then lets hope it is a step towards a new protocol.
We need to get rid of the spammers for once and for all, lets nope this is a step in the right direction.
I just can't imagine they would destroy their credibility by rolling out such a self parody. It would mostly ruin any chance they ever had of launching a real service.
However, the timing is extremely suspect.
If it is a joke, it is extremly poor taste.