by Martin Belam, 2 April 2004
Two interesting takes on yesterday's Gmail announcement from Google.
One take is that it was a bit of a cock-up on their PR departments part to release such a key business announcement on April 1st, which led to discussions on Slashdot, Webmasterworld and elsewhere on whether this was actually an April Fool that had got out of hand.
More significantly, the way that Google intends to serve ads alongside incoming mail is coming under criticism, as noted in this Wired News article - "Free E-Mail With a Steep Price"
"Google said it would use automated technology to scan the content of incoming e-mail for keywords and place related text ads inside the mail"
Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center is already on the case about that:
"It's absurd that using a communications medium should subject one to privacy-invasive advertising. Why not put an operator on the phone to listen to your conversation and pitch things to you while you're talking? You'd say that's ridiculous. Well, this is ridiculous."
<Added> see also Charles Cooper: Why Gmail gives me the creeps at CNet news
Let me introduce ourselves. We are the operators of www.gmails.co.uk . On the site you will see a brand new Google Gmail question and answer forum which we intend to build on with membership in the future. We wish to build a team of experts at a forum for this exciting new product.
Of course someone should tell Chris Hoofnagle that you pay your phone bill... GMail would be free. If you didn't pay a penny for phone calls from BT (no line rental, no call charges), they'd have to pay for it somehow.
Or a stroke of genius, which got the web talking about something so dull as another free e-mail service...?
ah the post-modern world where nothing is a simple as it seems ;-)
More Gmail info collected at http://blog.outer-court.com . As for Google invading your privacy -- well, in theory, Hotmail does the same. And millions use it. I trust Google Inc to do a better job at respecting my privacy. They automatize the process of content scanning, just as they do with AdWords/ AdSense.