Gmail finally really open to everyone

Nearly three years after Gmail was first released, the free Web-based e-mail from Google is being opened up for anyone in the world. Beginning Wednesday, everyone and their mother can sign up instead of having to get an invite from a Gmail-using friend. Google has been phasing out the invitation restriction geographically, with total general availability offered in Europe last week and in North America, South America and Asia this week. The service is still in beta test mode, however.

Many people thought Google's ad-based searchable e-mail service with an unheard-of gigabyte of free storage was an April Fools' Day joke when it was announced on April 1, 2004. Privacy advocates and others objected to Google serving up ads based on the content of the messages. Making Gmail accounts available only by invitation, and thus a scarce commodity, increased their allure and led to auctions of invites on eBay. Later, rival Web-based e-mail services followed with full search functions, vast amounts of storage and ads.

Tech Culture
About the author

Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor.


Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
Best mobile games of 2014
Nissan gives new Murano bold style (pictures)
Top great space moments in 2014 (pictures)
This is it: The Audiophiliac's top in-ear headphones of 2014 (pictures)
ZTE's wallet-friendly Grand X (pictures)
Lenovo reprises clever design for the Yoga Tablet 2 (Pictures)