Google is giving more people the chance to sign up for, but the search giant insists the move does not signify an impending full-scale launch of the free e-mail service, which has been in beta since it .
To date, Google has been relying on social networking to roll out Gmail, initially inviting some 2,000 people, who were then able to invite a limited number of others themselves. This week though, Google started sending invitations directly to those who have signed up to be kept abreast of updates to the service.
"We're sending invitations to those who supported us during the launch," said a Google representative. But she added, "This does not mean that we're out of beta (or) offering open subscriptions to the world."
Is a two-year beta
really a test? Bloggers,
whether companies like
Google stretch the beta
concept too far.
Interest in the service. It made a stir both because it kicked off the move toward bundling with free e-mail accounts--1GB in Gmail's case--and because of the revenue model, which relies on context-sensitive advertisements placed alongside e-mails as they are read.
Despiteover Gmail, the service has proved alluring, with eBay at one point offering as many as 2,000 listings for Gmail invitations.
Google has since still offering some., though eBay sellers are
In another sign of the service's popularity, a number of utilities have appeared to help people manage their Gmail accounts.
Matt Loney of ZDNet UK reported from London.