Thursday, March 24, 2005

Gmail once again not yet available?

Although a lot of the excitement about Google Gmail has died down, there are still lots of people itching to get a Gmail account, and I was one of them. Unfortunately, Google had only allowed a limited number of people to sign up initially, and told the rest of us that we'd have to wait for the test period to be over.

Imagine my surprise when last Thursday morning (March 17, 2004), I brought up the Google main search page and there was a little message announcing that Gmail was "New" and inviting me to sign up. I thought it was too good to be true, so I signed up as quickly as I could. It all works like a charm, including reading gmail messages via POP3 in Microsoft Outlook Express.

Now, it turns out that Google has shut the door almost as quickly as they opened it. Gmail is no longer listed as one of Google's widely available services and the Gmail web page informs you that "We're currently only offering Gmail as part of a preview release and limited test. We don't have details on when Gmail will be made more widely available, as that depends in part on the results of the test." But, my new account still works, so I think I really did get lucky, for once.

I notice that my Gmail web page has a little box labeled "Invite a friend" and "50 left", suggesting that I can in fact give away 50 Gmail accounts to whomever I want. Hmmm... that also sounds too good to be true.

There's a whole discussion entitled "Gmail Goes Public" over on Slashdot. There is some suggestion that the invite on Google's web page appears randomly or for selected users. Sounds like I really did get lucky.

In any case, Gmail does seem well-suited for blogs, especially if you happen to strike gold (or a nerve) and get bombarded with a zillion emails. Google can file them all away and quickly search through them as you wish.

-- Jack Krupansky