On April Fools’ Day 2004, Google made a splash when it introduced Gmail, a free online email service. One reason it was revolutionary was its gigabyte of free storage space — the idea being that you wouldn’t have to constantly be deleting email in order to keep things going.
I’ve been a happy Gmail user all these years, as Google has provided more storage space, and Gmail has remained easy to use. And I’m not the only one — Gmail is now one of Google’s eight services with more than 1 billion active users, a spokesman told me.
But today, I’m in a jam. I’ve run out of space across Gmail, the Google Drive storage service and the Google Photos app.
I have options.
I could clear up space by deleting emails (email takes up much more of my space than photos or files) or moving some data around to other Google accounts. Or I could move them to services from other providers like Microsoft, which I pay $99.99 per year for the Office 365 suite that includes Outlook for email and OneDrive for storage.
The simpler thing to do would be to pull out my credit card and start paying Google.
That would go against the original value proposition of Gmail, though. Way back in 2004, the press release introducing Gmail to the world included an impactful quote from Google cofounder Larry Page:
“Gmail solves all of my communication needs. It’s fast and easy and has all the storage I need. And I can use it from anywhere. I love it!”
I imagine that today Page, who is now CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, remains a Gmail user. I wonder if he started paying at some point.
It helps that Google has raised the limit on data storage for Gmail users multiple times.
In 2005, it jumped 100 percent to 2 gigabytes.
By 2007, users had about 40 percent more — 2.8 gigabytes.
In 2011 the limit was 168 percent larger, at 7.5 gigabytes.
Then in 2012 it jumped 33 percent to 10 gigabytes.
And 2013 was the most recent time Google raised the limit — bringing it up 50 percent to 15 gigabytes.
But now it’s been five years since Google gave free users more room for stuff. (Google did introduce free and unlimited storage of images and videos through Google Photos in 2015, but if you want that free tier, you’ll need to be okay with content getting compressed or resized.)
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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