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Google to Launch Free Mail Service? 329

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hit-them-where-it-hurts dept.
prostoalex writes "The New York Times article on Yahoo and Terry Semel's management (soul stealing form required) mentions Google preparing "to offer a free e-mail service, people close to the company said, in a bid for Yahoo's most important source of loyal customers"."
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Google to Launch Free Mail Service?

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  • Google Portal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:01AM (#8355159) Journal
    Google email is interesting, but I hope they stop there. If the Google front page starts looking like Yahoo!'s bloat-fest, they'll be losing one of the things that really gives them an edge over the competition. Clever searching algorithms can be duplicated.
    But Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, dismisses the idea that Google is disadvantaged. "How long does it take to type your ZIP code, maybe five seconds?" he said in an interview this month, adding that Google would be quick to add personalization features if it felt that they would help users.
    This frightens me.
    • by poptones (653660) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:10AM (#8355190) Journal
      Because google really needs the competition. While I find the search engine useful for many specific tasks (like the way it provides a better search of the ms tech support site than MS does) and it's still my first choice for searches, it ain't AT ALL what it used to be. Try looking for "motherboard reviews" for example (even if you have a specific part number) and you'll be lucky to find an ACTUAL "review" on the first two pages of results.

      Google was great, but "advertisers" figured out how to game it long ago and I don't think the folks at google are interested in evolving the concept much further. I have serious reservations about MS being able to actually compete with their technology (they can't even figure out what's on their own damn tech support site) but I really wish SOMEONE would do some "duplication and evolution;" maybe THAT would light a fire under some asses at google.

      • by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:32AM (#8355268) Journal
        ...but I really wish SOMEONE would do some "duplication and evolution;" maybe THAT would light a fire under some asses at google.
        Now that you mention it, you've reminded me of something: I've been told that AlltheWeb [alltheweb.com] has gotten pretty good these days, and my own experiences with it have been mostly positive. They are tied to Overture, but the results seem to be pretty good, and the home page is blissfully plain.
      • Try alltheweb.com (Score:5, Informative)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:45AM (#8355309)
        I use alltheweb [alltheweb.com] when not using google. Between those two I generally find what I want.

        Alltheweb is a bit more international than google (I believe its hosted in Europe somewhere) and is owned by Overture who sells google lots of search info.

        About us page here. [alltheweb.com]

        They also seem to have a knack for lowering the importance of weblogs, which seems to be a big issue with some people nowadays.
        • Re:Try alltheweb.com (Score:5, Interesting)

          by allgood2 (226994) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:47AM (#8355585)
          I love all the web. My top three search engines are AlltheWeb, Google, and Kartoo. Google gets the majority of my searches, just because it's built into Safari. But if I'm going in, fknowing that I'm looking for specific results, then I always start with AlltheWeb. I use Kartoo when I want to break results out quickly and visually--come up with more defined search terms, etc.
        • They also seem to have a knack for lowering the importance of weblogs, which seems to be a big issue with some people nowadays.

          Here's a simple way to get most blogs out of your results in google or any other search engine (personally I use Gigablast [gigablast.com] as my primary):

          Type search query plus "-blog"

          Et voila!

          Of course it can't help it if some pages are ranked high because they are linked from blogs, but I don't think that anything from the user-side can change that.
      • by FlyingOrca (747207) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:17AM (#8355440) Journal
        I've used Google since Infoseek ceased to be the best, and like everyone else, I've noticed the gradual reduction of relevancy as people figure out how to scam Google for higher placement. Reading about this, I had an idea that is probably not original: Could a search engine be set with Slash-style moderation code, so irrelevant results could be modded down by annoyed users? Is there an engine that does this already?
        • by Uber Banker (655221) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:42AM (#8355564)
          The trouble with a modertion system is moderation is often wide of the mark. There are some really good mods, some really bad mods, and many mods who may not be experts in a field but moderate what seems correct to them - when they may be wrong. And as Slashdot proves regarding economics, incorrect opinions get modded up when they are incorrect one.

          Moderation is a way to enforce groupthink, not to encourage what is best.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:20AM (#8355449)
        You know, if you use syntax, you nearly always get what you are after on google.

        Instead of typing:
        K8NNXP motherboard reviews
        (for example)

        type:
        "motherboard" +K8NNXP +review
        You will be sure to get a result from that :)
      • by ZoneGray (168419) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:26AM (#8355485) Homepage
        Yeah, I've noticed the same thing, it's becoming really difficult to find editorial reviews through Google. All you get is shopping pages, link farms, and somewhere buried in the first couple of pages will be epinions.com, and that's about it. You almost never find a real editorial article on a product.

      • by evilWurst (96042) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:00PM (#8355979) Journal
        ...but you should be expecting problems with a search for something as horribly generic as "motherboard review" anyway. If you search for something that *should* get millions of results, and you do in fact get millions of results, well, you asked for it :)

        That's the sort of "problem" with only one solution: the user needs to narrow down the search himself. Continuing the mobo example, by supplying more... like processor architecture, manufacturer, and so on. To expect google to automagically do this FOR you is to defeat the purpose of a useful search engine - you're asking them to make all the choices for you. That's bound to make the wrong choices. Frequently. And it opens up a new way for shadier search engines to take money in exchange for adding bias into their results, or for random scammish web page designers to try to game the system.

        The solution is basically what google already does: there's a "search within these results" box you can use to narrow down your search if you got a big pile of uselessly generic results. I suggest you use that.
      • ... but I really wish SOMEONE would do some "duplication and evolution;" maybe THAT would light a fire under some a[....]s at [G]oogle.

        Not duplication, revolution is the notion you want: Google was successful because its founders believed in a completely new paradigm, that graph-based methods (PageRank, HITS [cornell.edu]) could outperform dusty (but effective) vector-space retrieval.

        Many people have a shady intuition of what information retrieval really is ("Um.. yeah, you look the pages up in which the keywords occur"), trivializing the area. Go to any top-500 company and try their site search if you want to have a good laugh.

        What we need is once more something completely different. It still holds that there is more than one way to do it!
        One way is to go ahead and build a distributed indexing scheme (see my earlier posting on this theme), borrowing conepts from SETI@home or Freenet, because an index that cannot be located anywhere cannot be controlled. It might also be a better test-bed for large-scale experiments, but where only few developers want to try out new algorithms ("at home"), using the distributed indices built on distributed, donated diskspace around the world.

      • by Reivec (607341) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:35PM (#8356153)
        I just searched "motherboard reviews" on google and about 9 out of 10 links it came up with DID take me to actual reviews, so I am not sure what your complaint here is. I am hearing more and more people trash google for having too many ads and not enough content but I have personally not once found this to be a problem on google. I always find what I want pretty damn quick there.
      • by Quantum Jim (610382) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (42tscfj)> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @03:25PM (#8356747) Homepage Journal
        That's easy to fix! I simply add a set of anti-purchase strings to my query. Terms such as -purchase -merchant -buy -sell -sex -porn work well. Advertisers are in a jam because they want to be at the top for a search, but also want to sell you something. I've found that method to filter about 75% of all spam on Google.

        I guess Google is a victim of its own success.
    • Re:Google Portal? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ktanmay (710168) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:19AM (#8355216)
      I agree, search quality will definitely take a hit, and the competition is building to such a degree that it won't be long before some startup from Stanford/MIT will do what google did to altavista/yahoo.
    • Re:Google Portal? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FePe (720693) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:22AM (#8355226)
      Google email is interesting, but I hope they stop there. If the Google front page starts looking like Yahoo!'s bloat-fest, they'll be losing one of the things that really gives them an edge over the competition.

      One of Google's mayor strenghts is its simple interface. When compared to other search engines including Yahoo, Google's interface [google.com] seems very clean and simple, and also the way the whole site is put together. Regular users don't need all the features that Google has to offer, but power users may want to use them, and they can easily find out where they are accessed. For example, Advanced search [google.com] is on the front page where all can find it; but one must know about other features [google.com] to use them, and that's not a problem for the users who wants to use these.

      • Re:Google Portal? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Blue Stone (582566) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:45AM (#8355312) Homepage Journal
        "One of Google's mayor strenghts is its simple interface. When compared to other search engines including Yahoo, Google's interface seems very clean and simple, and also the way the whole site is put together."

        Yahoo's search page [yahoo.com] is also pretty simple, but probably not what people generally think of using when searching with Yahoo.
        Maybe that's just a question of priorities - which set of features gets on the 'front' page. So long as Google keeps its front page the simple one, that probably won't be an issue.

    • Re:Google Portal? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kawaichan (527006) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:40AM (#8355291) Homepage
      I know i know, yahoo's front page is clutting as hell, links upon links.

      but have you taken a look at the actual search page [yahoo.com], it actually looks damn clean.

      I like it better than google's interface IMO.
    • Re:Google Portal? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rai (524476) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:55PM (#8356264) Homepage
      Actually, Google already has a lot of extra services here. [google.com] But like you, no matter how many new services they offer, I do hope they keep the front page clean and minimal as it is now.
  • Client (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThisNukes4u (752508) <tcoppi@gmail. c o m> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:02AM (#8355161) Homepage
    If they'll provide POP or IMAP access without having to pay for it like Yahoo!, I'm sure it will be quite succesfull.
    • Re:Client (Score:2, Funny)

      by gustgr (695173)
      --JOKE STARTS HERE--

      I hope they won't offer a service to search content trough private e-mails.

      --END OF JOKE--
    • by Amsterdam Vallon (639622) * <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:23AM (#8355238) Homepage
      If you have a fairly advanced toolset of software knowledge, you can download YahooPOPs! [sourceforge.net] over on the SoresForge page.

      What is it? Well, YahooPOPs! is an open-source initiative to provide free POP3 and SMTP access to Yahoo! E-mail accounts. It works in both Windoze and Unix.

      What it does is emulate a POP3/SMTP server and enables popular email clients like Outlook, Netscape, Eudora, Mozilla, IncrediMail, Calypso, etc., to DOWNLOAD AND SEND emails from Yahoo! accounts.

      It's amazing, bro. I had NO idea it'd even work. I had to download it to believe it. There are also other similar programs out there for MSN, Lycos, etc.

      No self-respecting webmail user should be WITHOUT it.
      • Sounds like hotwayd [sourceforge.net] which does much the same thing for Hotmail. I think hotwayd also works for Lycos and a few other webmail providers.

        I've got it set up and it works fine, though it only picks up mail from your inbox, not your junk mail or anything. If you want it picking up from multiple folders you just have to set up multiple copies of the daemon to look in each folder.

    • Re:Client (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cookiepus (154655) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @02:03PM (#8356322) Homepage
      If they'll provide POP or IMAP access without having to pay for it like Yahoo!, I'm sure it will be quite succesfull.

      That's not a good idea from the business point of view. If people are popping their mail, they're not seeing text adds. What's the point?

  • Excellent Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zone-MR (631588) <slashdot@@@zone-mr...net> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:03AM (#8355162) Homepage
    If they can avoid yahoo's extremely bloated interface and stick with google's simplicity for their webmail, the idea might be a winner.

    Of course they will need to invest a lot of effort into spam filtering for the service to be of any value.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:03AM (#8355163)
    $ whois googlemail.com

    [snip]

    Registrant:
    Google Inc.
    (DOM-302458)
    2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy Mountain View
    CA
    94043 US

    Domain Name: googlemail.com

    Registrar Name: Alldomains.com
    Registrar Whois: whois.alldomains.com
    Registrar Homepage: http://www.alldomains.com

    Administrative Contact:
    DNS Admin
    (NIC-1467103)
    Google Inc.
    2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy Mountain View
    CA
    94043 US
    dns-admin@google.com +1.6503300100 Fax- +1.6506188571
    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    DNS Admin
    (NIC-1467103)
    Google Inc.
    2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy Mountain View
    CA
    94043 US
    dns-admin@google.com +1.6503300100 Fax- +1.6506188571

    Created on..............: 2001-Jul-18.
    Expires on..............: 2005-Jul-18.
    Record last updated on..: 2003-Dec-30 15:39:37.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    NS1.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.32.10
    NS2.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.34.10
    NS3.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.36.10
    NS4.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.38.10

    Alldomains.com - The Leader in Corporate Domain Management

    $
    • by m_dob (639585) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:14AM (#8355197) Homepage
      Or it could be that they don't want someone to use the domain to create a shady business. I thought this was common practice. If they brought this domain in 2001, likelihood is that they brought it more for safety's sake.
    • by the uNF cola (657200) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:14AM (#8355198)
      Or they could be saving money on law suits for trade mark stuff.

      If someone took googlemail.com and used it, they could lose their trade mark and cause confusion, with or without knowing it. Paying $200 for 5 or so years for a trademark'd domain is sure cheaper than keeping a lawyer in court.
    • by fbg111 (529550) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:15AM (#8355204)
      Looks like the Google home page "www.google.com" will remain as it is - light and uncluttered. "www.googlemail.com" will probably be another tab link on the main page, like "Groups", "Images", "Directory", and "News" are.
    • by gst (76126) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:44AM (#8355304) Homepage
      yeah - porn was always a good idea to make money :)
      $ whois googlesex.com

      [snip]

      Registrant:
      Google Inc. (DOM-258919)
      2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy Mountain View CA 94043 US

      Domain Name: googlesex.com

      Registrar Name: Alldomains.com
      Registrar Whois: whois.alldomains.com
      Registrar Homepage: http://www.alldomains.com

      Administrative Contact:
      DNS Admin (NIC-1340142) Google Inc.
      2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy Mountain View CA 94043 US
      dns-admin@google.com +1.6503300100 Fax- +1.6506181499
      Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      DNS Admin (NIC-1340144) Google Inc.
      2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy Mountain View CA 94043 US
      dns-admin@google.com +1.6503300100 Fax- +1.6506181499

      Created on..............: 2000-Mar-15.
      Expires on..............: 2005-Mar-15.
      Record last updated on..: 2003-Dec-30 15:39:39.

      Domain servers in listed order:

      NS1.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.32.10
      NS2.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.34.10
      NS3.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.36.10
      NS4.GOOGLE.COM 216.239.38.10

      Alldomains.com - The Leader in Corporate Domain Management
      guess who owns googleporn.com...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:04AM (#8355167)
    probably quickly snatched up. booble@google.com
  • Positive progress (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locky (608008) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:06AM (#8355170) Homepage
    Coming from Google its pretty much a given the tried and tested 'Free Email' sector will see some new and exciting innovations.

    However, the KISS method should defintley continue to apply for Google.com - the moment it begins to mimick Yahoo or MSN is the moment it will have lost its edge.
    • True, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 0x0d0a (568518) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:25AM (#8355245) Journal
      I think that what Yahoo did wrong (boy, I'll bet there are tons of analysts starting sentences the same way) was to try to make a mega-page, to rely on some data that was human-indexed rather than entirely machine-produced, and to fall behind technologically.

      Google doesn't do this.

      * Google is very spartan. I'm glad to see that all the web designers that thought that fancy web pages are what people want have been shown to be wrong. Excuses like "oh, this is for a 'distinctive feel'" or "we won't look up-to-date without Flash", etc, just don't measure up. Google works well on all browsers, has pages that download quickly, and renders very rapidly. The only large image used is the ever-changing "Google" logo, which gives folks a fair amount of enjoyment (well, *I* get more of a kick out of it than any other single image of that size each day). Their ads are text-based, and there are few links on each page. Their page works well in any browser, including lynx. Spartan is in -- web development has matured, and garish pages with faux metal bits and hard-to-find imagemap-based links are out. Functionality matters.

      * All the data that Google presents is produced by a computer, not an array of humans (except for the Directory, which is from dmoz.org, not Google-paid people. They can scale up as far as they want by just increasing their processor power. All their people just figure out how to get the computer to do the right thing. Sure, in the short term that can be a bit less efficient, but it's a big win in the long term.

      * Google doesn't fall behind when it comes to technology. Google is rabid about recruiting PhDs working with automated data mining. They are constantly adding neat little features to find, interesting new experimental searches (Google Sets is my favorite), and do an impressive job for a group of people that have hordes of people trying to beat the engine constantly and are avoiding using any human-based indexing.
    • by Montreal Geek (620791) <(marc) (at) (uberbox.org)> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:34AM (#8355528) Homepage Journal
      I'm probably going to show my geeky age... but one of the things I most appreciate from Google is that it works right with textmode browsers (e.g. lynx, links).

      Their designers/programmers, happily possess a full set of clues. They understand that the Web is not TV, and that HTML is a carrier for contents, not eye candy.

      If they can do this right with free webmail too, they win even more brownie points!

      Don't get me started about sites that give you error messages (or worse yet, fail dismally without explanation) simply because you don't have *script or foo-browser-extension from M$.

      Or, the even more annoying ones that complain and refuse to let you in when they think you aren't using MSIE but in fact work perfectly if you instruct your browser to lie about what it is.

      K*I*S*S!

      -- MG

  • The question is... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dolo666 (195584) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:07AM (#8355176) Journal
    If google starts a mail service, is it really to take on Yahoo? I have a pretty good opinion of Google for most of their decisions and I find it hard to beleive that they would go out and try to attack another company.

    Maybe I'm naive, but I beleive if Google has decided to go after new business, it would be because they decided to move into a new market, not because they wanted to act in malace against another company.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:15AM (#8355203)
      You are naive. You probably also believe Apple is a "nice" company, too (see battery replacement plan).

      I hate to spoil it for a lot of you people, but Google is no longer run by the engineers. They have a CEO. They also have a bunch of backers who want to get paid a lot of money when this company goes public. They are not in business to make you guys feel good about them. They are in business to make money.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I hate to spoil it for a lot of you people, but Google is no longer run by the engineers.

        That's totally false. The CEO you mention is Eric Schmidt, who has a PhD in computer science and is the author of Lex [google.com], the automatic scanner generator. The founders still hold controlling interest in the stock. Google is the most engineering-driven company you're likely to come across.

      • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:13PM (#8356033)

        They are not in business to make you guys feel good about them. They are in business to make money.

        Yeah, and the two are, like, totally mutually exclusive, right? Believe it or not, but word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of advertising ever, and the best way to get that is to keep customers happy. In this case, google relies a lot on people telling each other just how cool this search engine is, and how quickly it loads, and how you're not spammed to death with advertisements, and guess what, it bloody works! Every person in my social circle who owns a computer knows google, and that includes some seriously digitally handicapped individuals....hi mom!

    • by kaan (88626) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:28AM (#8355255)
      I beleive if Google has decided to go after new business, it would be because they decided to move into a new market, not because they wanted to act in malace against another company.

      That's how every company and every business works in this country. It is for that very reason - direct competition - that we have so many awesome, cool products and services. At the end of the day, consumers want the best value for their dollar, the most choices, the most convenience. It's what a free market is all about.

      So consider this, if Google creates an email service, and Yahoo starts to see some of its customers switch to Google, then Yahoo will be in a position to either a) do nothing, or b) offer something new to make Yahoo an even better service than it was before.

      At the end of the day, if both services are doing a really good job, then they'll split the user base. But if one is really doing a better job than the other, that one will "win" the majority (usually). End-users will have more choices for web-based email, and we'll possibly see other services created to entice us to switch services.
    • by samsmithnz (702471)
      I think quite a few people would jump. How many times to you hear about people dropping their yahoo or hotmail accounts because they have too much spam (little do they relieze that changing accounts doesn't help).

      I think a lot of people will jump over.
  • Privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by toesate (652111) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:07AM (#8355178) Homepage Journal
    I wonder whether Google mail will index my mails. sounds spooky..
    • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AndroidCat (229562) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:31AM (#8355265) Homepage
      No, but when you're reading your email, there will be small text ads on the right side of the screen targeted to the content of your email.

      For example, if someone is emailing you about overcoming the Great Satan, perhaps some of the ads will be for flight schools in your area. It's just helpful search routines with no privacy issues at all. Nothing to worry about citizen, the computer is your friend.

  • Uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by m_dob (639585) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:09AM (#8355188) Homepage

    Step 1: Google takes over search engines

    Step 2: Google takes over webmail services

    Step 3: Tomorrow - the world!


    What next? The Google OS?


    • by eWarz (610883)
      Step 1: Google takes over search engines Step 2: Google takes over webmail services Step 3: Tomorrow - the world! Step 4: Profit!!!!
    • by qortra (591818) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @12:39PM (#8355875)
      I suppose it is folly to make a serious reponse to a post modded "funny", but I should point out that the OS that Google uses to run their servers (a *highly* modified GNU/Linux variant) is usually reffered to as the Google OS since it was designed by them specifically for their server farms (I think anyway). Also, I believe there is a GFS (Google File System, or Gordon Food Services - an entirely unrelated business) which is the distributed file system run at - of course - their server farms.
  • Sad to say (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:11AM (#8355192)
    We really have to admit that Google is in decline. In all likelihood, there may be only one more (or possibly two) years before Google goes away forever.

    I know it is now almost a mantra set in stone that "Google is dying". Unfortunately, the abuse of that fact by trolls has obscured the truth, that truth being that Google really is dying.

    My main reason for moving away from Google to MSN Search has been twofold. First, to avoid the constant IPO uncertainties. And secondly, to investigate more promising and viable entries in the search engine sweepstakes. Google is no longer a legitimate player, I'm sorry to say.
  • Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arvindn (542080) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:13AM (#8355194) Homepage Journal
    Yahoo mail throws some huge animated ads at you. Mozilla blocks them for me of course, but the average person suffers them. If google can combine targeted text advertising with email (like by analyzing the content of the email) then maybe they can offer some serious competition. The article hints at something like that.

    I remember reading about a year ago on one of the google related stories here on slashdot, that the reason google has been very successful is that they've done one thing and done it well, rather than trying to be a portal and integrate everything. Specifically, one poster said that if google ever offered an email service (and implying that that's an unlikely possibility) he'd ditch google for searching and google would soon degenerate into just another website with a Dubious Business Model. Follow up posters agreed with that comment. So, the time has come now. I ask the people who felt that way last year, are you sticking to your decision/analysis? If not, what has changed?

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fbg111 (529550) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:22AM (#8355229)
      If google can combine targeted text advertising with email (like by analyzing the content of the email) then maybe they can offer some serious competition.

      That would be just great. Then we could not only get tons of Viagra and penis enlargement emails, we could also tons of Viagra and penis enlargement targeted text ads. Maybe even all in the same email. Can't wait.
    • Privacy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by paragon_au (730772)
      (like by analyzing the content of the email)

      Personally I don't want Google reading/analysing my e-mail. Even if is just some algorithm.
      • Personally I don't want Google reading/analysing my e-mail. Even if is just some algorithm.

        Why not? Ashamed of what the computer software will think. With every email system, the administrators could easilly be able to read your emails without you even knowing. Having an algorithm analyise the text is hardly an invasion of privacy.
      • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed (463061)
        Personally I don't want Google reading/analysing my e-mail. Even if is just some algorithm.

        Almost all email clients and servers analyse your mail these days. That's how the spam filters work.
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Informative)

      by jacoplane (78110)
      There's an interesting interview [mediainfo.com] with Google co-founder Sergei Brin about the future of google advertising.
  • The next step.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZeroVerteX (196791) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:13AM (#8355195) Homepage
    ...should be a Google IM based on Jabber! That would rock!
    • Re:The next step.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by infiniti99 (219973) <justin@affinix.com> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:51AM (#8355331) Homepage
      One of the tough aspects of popularizing XMPP/Jabber is that no large company has stepped forward to fully deliver it to the end-user. Ideally, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo would try to migrate their IM protocols to the standard, but somehow this seems unlikely. If a large company could provide a consumer-level IM client, plus dedicated server, plus whitepages, etc (the whole nine yards), and compete against the other gorillas, maybe this will work.

      I'd really like to see this, because the Jabber world really needs it. If we can't convince any of the existing major IM players to adopt Jabber, then we need a new company to enter the ring. But is Google large enough to take them on?
  • register billgates@google.com ?
  • by SmilingBoy (686281) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:17AM (#8355209)
    Knowing where searchers live and what their interests are, Yahoo believes, will let it present results that are more relevant and advertising that is more focused.
    I am not convinced, Yahoo. By looking at my IP, Google knows where I live as well. OK, Yahoo knows that one of my interests is cooking. But is that knowledge really an advantage for serving relevant advertising when I am searching for "Digital Camera Cheap"?
  • Sweet... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zordas (596510)
    Can't wait for this to happen. Currently I have to use gotmail to fetch my hotmail accounts then forward them to my ISP via an hourly cron job. With Google doing mail, I'm sure they will add IMAP support and be a little more "User Friendly" to us Linux users. (Not to mention No ads !)
  • Almost a dupe (Score:4, Informative)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:21AM (#8355223) Homepage Journal
    Most of the arguments/speculations in this story were addressed in this earlier Slashdot story (incidentally submitted by me). A few useful links there:

    Google Eyes New Email Service, Expansion [slashdot.org] on Monday January 19, @04:02PM

    Posted by simoniker [mailto] on Monday January 19, @04:02PM
    from the ultimate-internet-moogles dept.
    GillBates0 writes "According to a CNN/Reuters story, Google is developing a service to attach its lucrative keyword-based advertising to email [cnn.com]: ''I'm sure Google is getting more and more concerned about locking in users. It wouldn't surprise me if they did something very sophisticated with e-mail,' said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch.com [searchenginewatch.com], who tracks the industry.' Apparently, Google has purchased an e-mail management software maker and registered the domain name googlemail.com. The article also speculates that Google is slowly on the way to becoming a full-fledged portal, with the gradual addition of more and more portal-like features like Froogle [google.com]."

  • The main thing... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by linuxci (3530) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:21AM (#8355224)
    The main thing is whatever they do they retain their simple search interface. But if they do go the route of a mail service provider then it might be a good idea to investigate closer links with the Mozilla project [mozilla.org].


    I already suggested [slashdot.org] the benefits for both Google and mozilla.org for Google to replace their IE Toolbar with an official Google branded Firefox [mozilla.org]. If they don't want to make their mail service freely available through IMAP or POP3 then they could do what Netscape did in NS 7.x and make their mail servers accessible to their own branded mozilla client. Although it would be nice if Google mail would be based on Thunderbird [mozilla.org] rather than the suite.


    Hotmail is available through Outlook Express, so it'd be nice if Google did something similar without the tie in to MS products.

    • by SimplexO (537908)
      As much as I am a mozilla supporter (I really love the element-animal products -- I've installed them on my parent's system), I don't think the idea of a google branded thunderbird would work well, at least until Ben finishes his smart update (due for firefox 1.0) and Scott encorporates that into Thunderbird. If google will be giving it out, it will need to be dummy proof, and we can't have X people playing around with Google Thunderbird 0.5 for the next few years.
      • by linuxci (3530)
        That is true, I wouldn't expect Google to package up pre-release browsers, however if they did decide on this course of action they could perhaps pay for a few more developers to work on the project, I'm fairly sure Ben and Scott are paid by the foundation but it'd be nice to see others.

        I'm looking forward to the smartupdate feature in Firefox and hopefully there'll be enough people to test it to death when it arrives in 0.9 so that we can get a really solid 1.0

        Here's what I think the apps need to be succ
  • The irony... (Score:5, Informative)

    by EvilDrew (523879) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:24AM (#8355241) Homepage
    The story is about google from the New York Times, and yet somehow the submitter didn't give us the obligatory NYT/google link. ;-)

    Here ya go. [nytimes.com] (The same article is also available in The Ledger [theledger.com])

  • by Pollux (102520) <speter&tedata,net,eg> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:28AM (#8355252) Journal
    Let's look at the facts:

    First, there was Google. Beautiful searching. Love it dearly.

    Then, there was Google cache. Beautiful, wonderful idea. Love it dearly.

    Then, there was Google image searches, and News, and it was all still good.

    But adding free mail to it? I'm starting to worry that our at-one-time all-simple, all-powerful, all-effective search engine is becoming (possibly?) another Yahoo? They're already the most widely-used search engine (by far!), but why offer free mail? Leave that to the low-life such as Microsoft and Yahoo.

    Don't get me wrong, Google's seemed to manage everything quite smoothly thus far, and is still a wonderful site to use for everything they've made (besides searching, I use image search and the news listings & searches quite often). But free mail is quite a big undertaking...will they be able to manage it and still stay as good as they are?
    • by brucmack (572780) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @12:39PM (#8355874)
      There are tons of posts here questioning whether Google is losing their way by doing this, but I don't see what the problem is... Mail doesn't have to be complicated, even with integrated virus checking and spam killing software. Just because hotmail and yahoo are extremely bloated, doesn't mean that Google's will be the same way.

      Personally, I hope that they will allow free POP access. That's what got me to open my Geocities mail account, which later turned into Yahoo. Then they made it a pay service and I stopped using it.
  • Google MusicSearch? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FsG (648587) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:28AM (#8355256)
    Why's Google wasting its time with an ancient idea like this one when there are truly innovative things out there, waiting to be done? A google search for free music online, for example, would be a major boost to independant artists, and would turn a few heads.

    The point is, they have to be original if they want someone new to notice them, and webmail sure ain't original.

    • by mobby_6kl (668092)
      AltaVista already has (and had for some time now) this feature [altavista.com]
    • You mean like... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Why's Google wasting its time with an ancient idea like this one when there are truly innovative things out there, waiting to be done?

      You mean like when they decided to go for the ancient idea of "internet searches"? Altavista, Yahoo etc. weren't exactly whimps when Google came along. I'm not quite sure how Google wants to do better on this one though, free email is pretty much the same boilerplate thing everywhere.

      Kjella
  • doing things well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_tommy (619972) <tgraham@gTOKYOmail.com minus city> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:35AM (#8355281) Journal
    To the poster (here [slashdot.org]) who talked about how Google has done one thing, and done it well - yes- that is very correct. However, that was back in 2000. Searching is something Google is undoubtedly "the daddy" off. They have moved on - groups, image search, directory, news - they are all at the top of their respective content leagues in terms of quality and service.

    Whether or not the NYT article is correct or not doesn't really matter. The plain fact is that Google faces increases competition, and they need to offer more services to maintain their position as number 1. A Google email service is A) cool B) useful for people. As posters before has said, it would probably come quite feature laden, and thus be popular.
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:37AM (#8355286) Homepage
    loismustdie@google.com

    On a serious note: google is very tight lipped about what services they will be launching (until after they launch/beta) so not sure how credible these rumblings are...

    E.
  • ...with that kind of name recognition, and google's technical ability and design sense, I might finally be able to persuade my family not to use hotmail.

    (sigh)

  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:53AM (#8355338)
    I was ready to dump yahoo email until they implemented some nice spam filtering tech.

    There are still some things they have not done that they could.

    If google does what it is famous for...being innovative and simple..with spam filtering I will drop yahoo email like Dr. Atkins dropping a hot potato.

    Steve

  • Google + Hushmail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilkahn (6642) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:19AM (#8355448) Homepage
    If google really wants to do something worthwhile with email, they should go out and purchase hushmail [hushmail.com]. I happen to be a big fan of their service (web based PGP compatible email!) but I loathe how *few* people actually use encryption in email. If a powerhouse like google offered not just webmail, but *encrypted* webmail, I bet that the conversion rate would be pretty mind-blowing and voila, the huge bump encryption / PGP / GPG needed to get to the point of critical mass.

    Can you imagine a world in which you can say to someone: "what you mean you don't encrypt your emails?" Please make it so google!
    • Usability (Score:4, Informative)

      by MochaMan (30021) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:41PM (#8356187) Homepage
      Ok, I'm a software developer, I've got a bookshelf full of cryptography books and one lying at my bedside. But... until a mail client or webmail service makes encrypted email just as easy as regular email it's not worth my time.

      By "easy" I mean that I should literally have to do nothing to use it. If I have to create a keypair it should be when I sign up, and I shouldn't have to ever need to think about it again. I should have a "send encrypted" button beside the "send" button or a preference. I shouldn't have to get my friends to mail me their public keys, the service/client should obtain them automatically somehow. Essentially I shouldn't have to do a single thing more difficult than today's webmail services.

      I really don't have anything top secret enough to say to my friends that I would find value in encrypted mail. The huge inconvenience that is the current state of encrypted mail just isn't worth it to me... and it definitely won't be to my mum, or non-tech friends.

      However, if someone can do encrypted mail without any added inconveniences, I will be the first to sign up.
      • Re:Usability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FsG (648587) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @02:28PM (#8356474)
        I really don't have anything top secret enough to say to my friends that I would find value in encrypted mail.

        It's that mindset that keeps encrypted email from becoming a standard, and there is a major flaw in it. The real reason for encrypting everything is not so much to protect your photo collection or personal emails, but to completely cripple anyone (NSA, perhaps?) who would want to intercept everyone's email.

        Currently, there are very few people using encryption for email, so if the NSA notices that Joe Geek is, they might suspect that he has something to hide and start throwing massive computing resources at cracking his private key. However, if absolutely everyone was encrypting their email, no privacy-invading government org would know whose email to even begin decrypting. Thus, we'd all be safe.

        • Re:Usability (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MochaMan (30021)
          It's that mindset that keeps encrypted email from becoming a standard

          Oh I agree with you 100%. But neither I nor 99% of other users out there are part of the tinfoil hat crowd - the so-called benefit to civilisation that would be provided by encrypting all my mail just isn't worth the inconvenience to 99% of people.

          And while I have a strong interest in cryptography from a mathematical and theoretical point of view, I also have a personal belief in openness and a dislike of secrecy. Like most people I k
      • Re:Usability (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mathi€u (165818)
        There is a GREAT client which makes encryption/signing very easy: Apple Mail! I am using a personnal certificate from Thawte [thawte.com] (which is free, multiplatforms, easy to create if you find a good step-by-step guide with Google). Once you get your certificate, you insert it in Apple Keychain (which is the system wide program to manage your passwords and supports locking). You can then sign emails and encrypt for those people whom you have the public key. Try it ;).
  • by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@ColinGrego[ ... t ['ryP' in gap]> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:47AM (#8355580) Homepage
    And a thousand nerds stand by ready to be the first to get gandalf@googlemail.com and billg@googlemail.com.

    -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
  • by DoorFrame (22108) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:30PM (#8356127) Homepage
    10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 0@google.com [mailto].

    You can go ahead and try to send email there now, but I haven't quite got it activated yet. Soon though, soon.
  • Why it's creepy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kindofblue (308225) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:39PM (#8356170)
    If there are targetted ads attached to email, then advertisers or anybody else could pay for certain advertising keywords just to see if people are writing email about it. Some small percentage of them will click on the ad and then the ad sponsor will know something about the contents of your email. Say Microsoft or SCO wants to see if people are talking about linux or about switching to linux. They could bid for keywords like "linux" or "linux AND switch OR switching" (though I don't know if booleans are used in the ad selection). So some curious email readers will click on the ad and thereby will give MS/SCO a quantitive statistical sampling of people talking about switching to linux (or at least using one of the keywords).

    Extrapolate this to any words that somebody would be willing to pay to watch, regarding politics, religion, cults, music, or whatever other creepy corners your paranoia guides you to.

    The important difference between targetting ads to web pages vs email is that web pages are designed for wide publication. The contents of email is usually meant to be private.

  • Blogger perhaps.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sophrosyne (630428) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:58PM (#8356284) Homepage
    Maybe they will just add a free e-mail service to blogger...
    it makes sense that they would want to draw more users to their blogger service and provide more web-services through that brand (and in turn sell more ads).
    I personally cannot see them bloating up google.com, but you never know.
  • by ceeam (39911) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @02:25PM (#8356453)
    Will the Google's mail service have "I feel lucky" button instead of the "To:" field?
  • Google as Coca- Cola (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jaffanator (677358) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:42PM (#8357428) Homepage

    The reasons Google could/should launch an email service is the brand that they have created. As all the posts here corroborate, the Google as a brand is respected both in the tech community as well as the main stream, which is one of the reasons it is so successful. So even if it launches a free email service, its own branding power, regardless of features will draw many users there.

    Now if Google reigns in its business and marketing departments to keep the mail free of extraneous features and ad-attacks err. advertising, it will be more successful than Yahoo! and/or Hotmail purely by that feature alone. However if it becomes another advertising saturated free email service it will just be another player in the market not a dominant one.

    The reason that Yahoo! and MSN have turned into bloated portals is the same reason that Google is drawn create other services (froogle, images, ect.) to keep users in and use the power of their brands to hold users within their marketing umbrella. It's only too easy to add links and 'portal' type features to any popular web page for commercial reasons, which is the trap that Google must not fall into.

  • by Aspherical Cow (627670) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:52PM (#8357480) Homepage Journal
    According to a friend of a friend (I know, I know), Google email will place targeted advertisements in the email based on the content of the email! They plan to convince everyone that the data will not be kept, stored, or used after the ad has been placed. Why would people choose google over yahoo, hotmail, etc? They are offering 1GB of storage for free! Yes, one gigabyte for every user.
  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:54PM (#8357800)
    but when Google adequiared DEJA, they've dropped this feature. Granted, DEJA had some deficiencies, and in particular usenet group search was atrocious. Now of course deja search is excellent, and so e-mail is coming back as well. Nice ...Since I spend lots of time on deja, it will be quite natural for me to use google e-mail as well (and probably many of the former deja users will do the same)

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