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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Google plans rival e-mail service
GMail logo from Google website www.gmail.com
Google, the world's most popular internet search engine, plans to offer an e-mail service called Gmail in a bid to rival Yahoo and Microsoft's Hotmail.

The new service promises to take away the need to delete unwanted messages and organise e-mail according to topic.

The service is still being tested and not yet generally available, but will be offered for free on www.gmail.com.

Google mail provides one gigabyte of storage - many times more than existing rivals that also offer free e-mail.

Each user would have storage equivalent to 500,000 pages of e-mail, said Google.

Idea followed complaints

The idea came to one of Google's founders, Larry Page, after listening to complaints from a Google user. She said she was spending all her time filing messages or trying to find them and "deleting like crazy" just to keep within the storage limits. She asked, "Can't you people fix this?"

GMail was a bit more complicated than we anticipated
Google co-founder, Sergey Brin

GMail is a new approach to email which takes advantage of a search facility and would group messages displaying them as a conversation.

Google has a commanding lead in the global internet search engine market, although its market share has shrunk sharply during the past month after Yahoo stopped using Google technology to power its searches.

Yahoo is now using its own search engines, which it developed after buying search companies Inktomi, Overture and Altavista.

Another claim is that GMail includes a spam filter and sends information to the GMail team working on spam blocking.

Rivals comparison

Hotmail and Yahoo also offer spam filters but many users say that they continue to get bombarded with unwanted e-mails advertising dubious products. Viruses carried by e-mail attachments are also a threat to computer systems.

RIVALS COMPARED
Gmail
Free 1,000 megabytes (MB) storage
No sorting or deleting needed
No pop-ups and banners
Spam filter and virus scan
MSN Hotmail
Free 2 MB storage
Up to 100MB costs $59.95 a year
Spam filter and virus scan
Yahoo
Free 4 MB storage
Up to 100MB costs $49.79 a year
Spam filter and virus scan
Google is privately-owned, but expected to float on the stock market later this year, a deal that could value Google at up to $25bn (14.7bn) - slightly more than listed online retailer Amazon.

The California-based company says it has expanded its web index to include more than six billion items.

Four billion of these are web pages, while Google has also put more effort into the size of its picture database.

Google is by far the world's most popular internet search engine. It has had a meteoric rise since the company was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Andrew Craig, Web User
"There's every reason Google should do an incredible job with its e-mail service"



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