The world’s largest Internet company, Google Inc. will increase the amount of free space available on its Gmail-branded email service for heavy users, barely two months after it began charging such customers whose storage exceeded 2.8 gigabytes (GB).
Google will also increase the amount of storage under paid options of its email service. “Google listens to feedback from users and is working on ways to make more storage available for our most active users,” said a company spokesperson in an email, but did not disclose the maximum storage it would offer.
“The amount available for free (users) right now is at 2.8GB, and it will continue to be gradually increased.”
On Monday, some free-Gmail users found their storage space had increased by around 500MB. Analysts see this move as part of Google’s strategy to attract and retain regular users at whom it effectively targets advertising.
“It wants users to be more frequent, so that it (can) track behaviour pattern and send targeted advertisements to the users,” said Madan Mohan Rao, editor of The Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, a journal that tracks Internet usage trends. “For those who use Gmail infrequently and (only) as an additional hard disk, they still may have to pay for more space,” he added.
Google earns most of its revenue from advertisements, some of which are displayed alongside search results or when an email is opened.
“A few of you are using Gmail so much that you’re running out of space, so to make good on our promise, today we’re announcing we are speeding up our counter and giving out more free storage,” wrote Ron Siemborski, a Gmail engineer, in an entry on the official Google blog on 12 October. The counter is a display on the Gmail home page indicating the amount of storage the Web mail service offers.
In August, Google began charging users rate slabs from $20 or Rs786 for 6GB to $500 for 250GB storage space.
“We’re giving you more space than before for the same price,” said Siemborski in the blog post. Google users can now pay $20 for 10GB space and as much as $500 for 400GB. The additional space could be merged with other Google services such as Picasa, its Web-based photo editing software and album.
Google launched its free search-based email on invitation in 2004 with 1GB capacity, several multiples of Web mail storage offered then by rivals Yahoo Inc. and Hotmail, owned by Microsoft Corp. In May, Yahoo offered unlimited storage, a trend set by Indian companies such as Sify Ltd and Rediff.com India Ltd.
AOL, too, launched its portal in India in June with an infinite mailbox, later extended to users in the US and Europe.