GMail to drop invitation-only accounts

Looks like Google is opening up GMail accounts to anybody who wants one, with no more need for an invitation, as of this coming Wednesday. Here’s more:

The decision to lift all invitation requirements on Gmail signals Google finally believes it has adequate computing capacity to accommodate the generous amount of free storage provided by the e-mail service after investing heavily in additional data centers. Gmail offers each account at least 2.8 gigabytes of storage – enough to fill about 1.4 million pages. […]

Now that Google has more computing muscle, Brin said the company will start selling additional storage capacity to e-mail users with extraordinary needs. Google still hasn’t figured out the specifics, but Brin indicated the e-mail storage and fees to be introduced later this year would be similar to Google’s photo-hosting service that charges $25 annually for 6.25 gigabytes and $500 annually for 250 gigabytes.

“We can’t afford to give away everything for free,” Brin said.

Whole thing here, including some eye-opening stats on Google’s revenue (which will explain how it can afford to give stuff away like this) and the number potential and actual GMail users out there.

Say what you will about Google, I think in 20 years experts will cite the ascendance of their free online apps such as GMail as a sea change in the way software is distributed and used. Users now expect there to be free, online apps for basic productivity, and that’s very significant indeed.

If you can’t wait until Wednesday, I have something like 97 additional invitations I can send out for new accounts. Just hit me up.

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