Announced on March 31, 2004, 5 minutes from April 1, 2004, Gmail is one of the off-shoots of Google.com. Gmail, still in a testing period, will offer free webmail services with one gigabyte of storage space.
At first, many doubted the veracity of Google's press release announcing Gmail. Google has a long history of April Fools' Day jokes; the date of the press release, the claim of one gigabyte of free storage, and the humorous tone of the press release caused many to think this was another one of these infamous pranks.
Gmail though, is for real. After the testing period is over, they will offer free webmail services. Some of the features will include: automatic grouping of an email and its responses into a conversation, a mail filterer, a labeling system, and future POP3 access of web accounts. The downside? Ads. However, the only advertisements will be the text adds Google has had for a long time.
An issue which has arisen is the potential loss of privacy with Gmail. The text adds will be based upon the content of the incoming messages to a Gmail account. Many privacy advocates feel that this is analogous to Google reading your email; however, computers will automatically search email for keywords, it's not as if Larry the tech will be reading each and everyone of your love letters to your e-mistress.
The one gigabyte of storage space seems ludicrous, but it really isn't. It will serve to attract many users to Gmail webmail, yet not end up costing all that much storage space. The average user probably won't even scratch the surface of their gigabyte. Gmail will more than make up for the occasional user taking up the full gigabyte by the number of users they will attract.