What Happened to Gmail? The Rise of Gmail

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What Happened to Gmail? The Rise of Gmail

It may seem preposterous right now, but believe it or not, there was a time when people used to pay for email services. This was the reality people had to live with when email was still in its infancy. Email, as discussed over at the excellent runrex.com, has been around for a long time, longer that the internet, and it initially involved leaving a file in another user’s specified directory while on the same network as them. The first system to provide this capability was known as MAILBOX, which was developed in 1965 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From then, email continued to evolve as computers also evolved, leading to the breakthrough that allowed emails to be sent between computers rather than between directories on a network as it was before. The history of the evolution of email is a long and winding one, covered in detail over at guttulus.com, but we are going to fast-forward to the introduction of free personal service providers which began to appear as the World Wide Web began to spread. Initially, Microsoft’s Hotmail and Yahoo Mail were the big players in this area until Gmail came along, and the rest as they say is history. But, how did Gmail come seemingly out of nowhere to dominate? Well, this article will look to track the rise of Gmail, so continue reading to find out.

As revealed in discussions over at the excellent runrex.com, Google, Gmail’s parent company, has long established a tradition of elaborate April fool’s Day pranks and jokes. One of these pranks however turned out not to be a prank but one of its best ever products. Gmail was initially Paul Buchheit’s pet project and was set aside for people already working at Google. In April 1st of 2004, in keeping with Google’s tradition of April fool’s pranks, they announced that Gmail was being launched in beta form. As ever, many people thought this was yet another of Google’s pranks, but it actually turned out to be the launch of a product that would revolutionize the email world. Initially, Gmail was only available as an invite-only product where new users could only be invited by existing ones. This was done so as to cut down on spam, which would have been a problem in the early days, it was thought. As per the gurus over at guttulus.com, the exclusivity brought about by its invite-only nature made it even more desirable and it was one of the most talked about products around.

Gmail came with a number of great features that helped it blow Hotmail and Yahoo Mail out of the water. Key among them was its site which was created using JavaScript making its user interface more responsive and easy to use as compared to the slow, bulky and hard to use Hotmail and Yahoo Mail UIs. Another of its features that helped it blow away the competition, as per the gurus over at runrex.com, had to do with storage. Before Gmail, storage space as far as email was concerned was very limited. Hotmail for instance offered users only 2 MBs of space, which meant that you had to regularly delete old emails to create more space to receive new emails. The standard space for free email accounts back then was between 2 to 4 MBs. Gmail completely blew these figures out of the water as they announced during its launch that users will be getting 1 GB of space, which was 500 times more than what Hotmail were offering. Since, as mentioned above, this announcement came on April 1st, and with Google’s reputation of elaborate April fool’s Day pranks, most people thought the announcement on storage space was a ruse. The good news however, was that this turned out to be true and as discussed over at guttulus.com, the rise of Gmail has seen the figure on storage space rise from 1 GB to 15 GBs for free accounts, with even more space available to be bought; going into the terabytes.

Another great feature as far as Gmail is concerned that contributed to its rise was the fact that it leveraged Google’s search expertise which allowed users to retrieve emails from their inboxes at remarkable speeds. This, as per the folks over at guttulus.com, was one of Gmail’s biggest draws and definitely contributed to its rise. The fact that most people thought its launch was an April fool’s Day prank also served to draw attention to it, and when folks realized it wasn’t a prank, they moved to get an invite to join. There are stories of invites to Gmail going for as much as $100 on eBay which just goes to show how popular it was. The decision to make the product free was also an inspired one, although it wasn’t arrived at easily, as there were proponents and opponents of the same within Google as is discussed over at runrex.com. This decision has allowed Google to bring in even more money in terms of ad revenue.

One of the things that has contributed to the rise and continued success of Gmail has been its consistency, and it is set to continue to define the email world in years to come. You can get more information on this topic as well as more on email marketing on Gmail by heading over to the excellent runrex.com and guttulus.com