A Case Study on Gmail

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Topics: Google
What is Gmail?

A web-based e-mail system provided by Google, Gmail is a free, advertising-supported webmail, POP3, and IMAP service provided by Google. In the United Kingdom and Germany, it is officially called Google Mail.

Beta Testing Phase of Gmail

Google initially invited about 1,000 opinion leaders and then allowed them to invite their friends, and family members to become beta testers, with trials beginning on 21 March 2004. Active users from the Blogger.com community were offered the chance to participate in the beta-testing on 20 April and later, Gmail members occasionally received "invites" which they could extend to their friends. One round of invitations was sent out on 1 May and another three invitations were given to all active members on 1 June. By mid-June, the number of invitations had increased, with many users receiving between three and five daily. When Gmail increased the supply of invitations, the buying and selling market for Gmail invites collapsed.

On 2 February 2005 the invitation interface was changed to make it easier to give invitations by simply entering an e-mail address. At approximately 3:00 UTC on 3 February 2005 some Gmail users were awarded 50 invitations and later 100 invitations, suggesting that Gmail would soon go public.

Attending a Google Mini webinar or using Google Mobile would also yield a Gmail invitation.

During the initial months of the initial beta phase, Gmail 's well-publicized feature set and the exclusive nature of the accounts caused the aftermarket price of Gmail invitations to skyrocket. According to PC World magazine, Gmail invitations were selling on eBay for as much as US$150, with some specific accounts being sold for several thousand dollars. After a new round of invitations in early June, the price for invitations fell down to between US$2–$5. Several philanthropic Gmail users have utilized services such as the now defunct GmailSwap to donate invitations to people who want them. On 28



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