How and Why Did GMail Become So Popular?

If you ask almost anyone what email service they use they will say GMail. While they may not use GMail for work they almost definitely use it for personal reasons. College and universities have adopted GMail as their electronic mail of choice and some major companies are now using GMail. This begs the question(s) how and why did GMail become so popular? It started with a whisper…

Back in 2002 and 2003 millions of Americans were signing up for email every single day. Some used AOL (You’ve Got Mail!), Hotmail and others used the local Internet Service Provider. I will never forget my first email address – Don’t worry, went out of business a long time ago so that email address is long gone. When I was in college our email addresses ended with Boy oh boy was that email system a pain in the ass.

Why Email Was Broken Prior to 2004

Prior to April 1st, 2004 email services put a cap on the amount of space you could use for your individual or business email. When I was in younger I can clearly remember having to sift through old emails to strategically determine which ones to delete and purge and which ones to keep. If you had any media files like photos or mp3s your email was almost guaranteed to be full in a matter of seconds. Heck, some emails wouldn’t even come through if your inbox was full. It was like an answering machine that didn’t have room for any more messages.

Can you imagine having an inbox that could get full today? I don’t even know what that means. Heck, most people younger than me are completely naive to how email used to work. With GMail they may have never deleted an email in their entire lives.

Another major problem with email prior to 2004 was the fact that it was truly unsearchable. If you wanted to look for an email from John Smith about a discount on a tire rotation you would have to go through each and every email. I am quite certain Hotmail and my NC State college email didn’t even have a search function.

How Google Fixed Email

I will never forget that moment in which I was given an invite to the beta version of GMail. I was in graduate school and one of my friends introduced me to the idea of unlimited email. Unlimited! I spent well over two hours a week going through email and trying to determine what to delete. I could keep them all? Even all those pictures, videos and music files? No way! What company has the money to do this?! Google, of course.

When GMail first started it looked like this:


Photo Credit

Notice the very bottom where it says “You are currently using 0 MB (0%) of your 1000 MB.” While 1000 MB might not seem like a lot today, it was 100 times more than any other email service was offering back in 2004. Today, Google offers 15 GB of space for an email account and you can purchase more if you so desire. Most GMail users will never get close to the 15 GB of space that is free.

Why is GMail So Popular?

It is easy and you can easily search it. That pretty much sums it up. Prior to GMail search was not possible in email. Now, with Google Inbox, not only is it easy but Google is making it much better for mobile. Remember that GMail was created well before the iPhone and Android smartphones. GMail is great on the smartphone but it will only get better as Inbox continues to adapt to the way in which common users check, read and send emails from the palm of their hand.

The other advantage that Google has over any other type of email service is that “everyone has it”. You may not realize this but Facebook tried to make an email service a few years ago. Heck, almost every social media company has tried some type of email. Honestly, it is going to take a lot to dethrone GMail simply because Google was the first to truly figure email out and they have a decade head start on everyone else.

What email service do you use? Will you ever move away from GMail?

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How To Make Money Online In Kenya On YouTubeHow to Never Delete an Email in Gmail and Inbox | Wojdylo Social MediaLen Raleigh Recent comment authors
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Len Raleigh

As a user of email since the days of Pine, I can concur that Gmail is pretty great. I wish that I could combine multiple Gmail addresses into one account. I would also like it if it were unbundled from Google+. Over the years I have sent out so many random emails to people from my Gmail account when complaining to HBO or selling something to a weirdo on Craislist. Occasionally, these people now follow me on Google+, which is creepy, although I mostly use Google+ for animated cat pictures at this point, so maybe they’re just in to that… Read more »


[…] too long ago I wrote the article How and Why Did Gmail Become So Popular? In that article I explain that prior to Gmail email inboxes filled up very fast. Whether you were […]


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