Google Offers Free Email Service

( [email protected] ) May 26, 2004 09:07 AM EDT

Google is once again in the spotlight after its announcement to publicly offer stock. This time, the industry’s most popular search engine has begun to offer free email service – labeled, Gmail. The new service has created a frenzy of Web users bidding to obtain an address during its test phase of the service.

Gmail will be offered free of charge when it launches for the public, but thousands have been rushing to stake out an email address early on in the game. At least 20,000 people have posted a request for an address at a recently established site, According to the site Gmail hunters have offered bribes ranging from cash to luxury overseas trips.

Gmail has been in beta testing since April and offers 1GB of storage – a significantly larger space compared to ones offered by rivals such as Yahoo. The free service has one condition – users must agree to let Gmail scan the contents of e-mail messages in order to provide them with targeted advertising.

Privacy advocates showed strong disapproval. Google reacted with an offer to refine the searches. It also reassured that any information obtained from emails will not be given to third parties and that only machines would do the scanning.

For a company in its “quiet period” before its IPO, all the clamor is unprecedented. "It is against the norm to make these announcements and come out with new products during the quiet period," said Beal of Websourced, "It definitely shows that Google is not a company that conforms to the norm."