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Let The Email Wars Begin
by: Jim Edwards
© Jim Edwards - All Rights reserved

Things just got a lot hotter in the hyper-competitive world
of online email providers.

In response to Google's announcement that their soon-to-be-
launched "Gmail" service will offer users 1 gigabyte of
email storage, Yahoo! announced an upgrade of their free
email service to allow users 100MB of free email storage
along with other enhancements.

Microsoft's Hotmail will surely also announce a free
upgrade in email storage space.

On the surface it might just appear like a simple case of
one-upmanship, but it actually represents major forces
digging in online and preparing to do battle.

It appears Yahoo! simply wanted to take the issue of email
storage space off the table as a consideration for users as
to which email service to choose.

Google enjoyed considerable media and public attention over
the past few weeks with the media marveling at how Google
intended to give hundreds of megabytes more space to its
users than Yahoo! or Hotmail.

With this move, Yahoo! made storage a "non-issue," but the
real war has only just begun.

Email ranks as the number one most popular online activity
according to virtually any survey you care to read.

When people go online, they spend the single biggest chunk
of their time sending, receiving, and reading email.

Online email providers understand that eyeballs on a page
looking at advertising and responding to offers is what
makes them money.

By increasing loyalty among email users in order to
repeatedly draw them back to the same website (often
several times a day), email service providers like Yahoo!,
Hotmail and Google can keep people looking at revenue
generating ads.

Despite the best efforts of government regulators, private
organizations, software filters, ISP's and others, over
half of all email sent online rates as unsolicited
commercial email (SPAM).

Besides storage space, Google, Yahoo! and Hotmail will
start claiming that their spam filters rate better than the

These online powerhouses hope to attract users with the
promise of cutting down and even eliminating the avalanche
of get-rich-quick, pornography, and ink-jet cartridge
offers (among others) that bombard virtually anyone with an
email account more than 15 minutes old.

This will, however, lead to another problem that many of
them won't talk about, which involves filtering legitimate
email as spam.

Unfortunately, the sword cuts both ways on this issue.

So where does it all end? Never! Hotmail will enter the
fray with expanded storage capacity as well as the promise
of less spam and a more "friendly" interface to make your
email life even easier.

Yahoo! and Hotmail will most likely copy Google and start
serving context sensitive advertising based on the content
of each email message as it get viewed.

Privacy advocates will weigh in to claim that all of the
filtering and serving of ads based on an email message's
content violates our rights to privacy and heralds the
arrival of "Big Brother."

But all this jockeying for position and enticing users from
one email service to another actually represents a great
boon for the average Internet user.

It will force three of the Web's biggest players to wake up
and improve their services after 2 or 3 years of "business
as usual" and we can all expect a few valuable innovations
to result.

About the author:
Jim Edwards, a.k.a., is a syndicated newspaper
columnist, nationally recognized speaker, author, and web developer.
Owner of nine (9) successful e-businesses as well as a professional
consulting firm, Jim's writing comes straight off the front lines
of the Internet and e-commerce.

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