Recently Google have created a new webmail service that looks likely to make both yahoo and MSN hotmail look really lame by comparision.
For one thing you get a massive 1 gig of data storage for free, when both yahoo and hotmail charge you around $50 a year to give you just 100mb,
(and only 4 or 2mb respectively if you pay nothing).
The downside is that the Gmail service is paid for by text ads, and google spider your emails to target the ads to the emails contents.. (it should be said that the spidering is done by computer not person.. its still private.. the spider program just looks for words in the emails and finds relevant ads to display, its really no less intrusive then what people get from hotmail and much less obtrusive then yahoo. (which occasionally makes you click “continue” on a full page ad to get back to your email.)
Anyway, there was a big outcry and now Google are rethinking it.. see: here for more details.
My personal feeling is that the guys running google now are the good guys, they are THE ONLY mainstream search engine that hasn’t sold out to commerical interests..
As I understand it, both Yahoo and MSN are happy to take money from companies in exchange for bumping people to the top of their search engine rankings..
Google does not do that, you can buy an ad on google, it its labled as such and is different in look and color from the real search results.
(plus Google runs from a massive server farm of linux machines, apparently around 100,000 of them I hear, and I’m partial to anyone that makes a big success on open source software.)
Anyway, a summary of sorts: Right now Google are the good guys, we have not paid them a cent and they send us a huge amount of traffic. They have not been caught out doing anything wrong or immoral with any search data they collect. People are complaining of the “potential” misuse.. nothing of the sort has occured at this point. (which is allot more then you can say about most other companies of this size/scope.)
The danger is that Google might IPO and become a public company, and a company like Yahoo or MSN (micro$oft) might end up with a controlling interest.. then what would happen to the massive amounts of data in the Google database?? (It should be noted that I don’t trust either of the afore mentioned companies as far as I could kick them.) I for one am not terribly worried about it at this point because the guys running Google are the guys that created it, and they have shown time and again that they are above the sorts of things that others in the industry have stooped to. I do plan to keep an eye on the situation though, more out of curiosity then anything else.
Offering 1gig of data storage on a free email system will cost them a packet in bandwidth and server costs.. they have to recoup that somehow and small text advertisments are allot better then what you find on the competing sites.
You might wonder why a search engine like Google would even want to do this.. I have wondered this myself, and the only answer I can think of is Micro$oft.. M$ have a long history of using their desktop OS monopoly force their way into other areas of interest to them… like the browser wars, the gaming industry, the multimedia industry (think windows media player) and others.. Windows XP has a basic search function, and MSN is the default of course.. but Longhorn, (the eventual replacement for XP) will apparently have search functionality built right though it.. and you can bet that none of the results will come from Google. (at least not by default.)
In other words, M$ will probably do what they have done many times before, that is they will release their own version of a search function. (which they have in MSN.)
Then they will build it into as many aspects of Longhorn as possible and make it fiddly to change… and most people won’t… so they will become the default search engine of the internet by way of the fact that 90%+ of the worlds desktops run windows.
What do they care if they have to pay google 200 million dollars in 10 years time?? by then it won’t matter to them anymore because Google and the other current big guns will not be threats anymore.. Just like what happened to Netscape Navigator, and recently again happened with Sun Microsystems/ and Java.
Support your Google, things could be worse… much worse…