There’s sufficient evidence that Google is serious about Gmail to warrant the retraction of my earlier blog post reporting the rumors that it was an April Fool’s joke. My apologies to fellow TR editor Patric Hadenius, who had it right from the beginning.
Beyond the exuberant tone of Google’s announcement and the extravagant amounts of free storage that will be available to Gmail users (1 gigabyte), the thing that initially struck me as most improbable about Gmail was that Google would try it in the first place. Most of the added functions Google has rolled out in the past, such as Froogle and Google News, were variations on the company’s industry-leading search capabilities. Gmail will highly searchable – but at its heart it’s simply a web-based e-mail program.
Others such as Internet consultant Robert Spears have questioned how well users will take to the fact that Gmail scans the text of their e-mails in order to place so-called “contextual ads.” But I’m more surprised that Google would venture so far beyond its core search offering, at the risk of diluting its brand. (Google’s own response to this issue is here.)