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Gmail initiative! A viable business model!

By Dr. Al Olaimi ·
Recently Google announced the Gmail project initiation. And I?ve been reading most of those who got involved in discussing Google entry to such venture. I would summarize all responders? comments into 3 categories:
1. How would Google be able to stop spam
2. how Google would benefit financially (business model)
3. how far Google would go in supporting such large storage.

Some other minor comments included other issues which are not less important in their own merits, yet still fall into one of the three previous categories, i.e. Google messenger (Gim), personalization of accounts, portals and so forth.

In an attempt to give myself a starting point, I thought of it in a macro prospective, thus I would go for answering question #2 first, then justify #3, ending with an attempt to describe an effective method in blocking spam (theoretically).

A. The moment that Google was recognized for its superior search engine, they were able to provide net- demographics, usage behavior, aggressive proactive capture and comparison for all in-listed web pages, changes pre and post changes as per monitored traffic. An extremely important statistical analysis reports for to the content about search patterns to advertisers would easily be available. Such self-positioning by Google would only be described comparably as ?the modern age censes department?, but this time it?s global near real-time coverage!

Once Google develop a scan technique that would scan the contents of emails, Google shall be able to provide even more analytical prospective, but this time supported with factual figures about their findings. Even though anonymity is assured, still scanning email contents is not going to be a crime since what is sought are merely patterns not intimate details ? something in the nature of an added value virus scanning ?.

Henceforth, the ultimate behavioral analysis tool for measuring human-web interactivity and usability is geared up to be delivered to mass marketing and advertisement centric organizations, only after merging both email and user search patterns! But what if we could add to it the preset user-requested news letters and interests? Therefore, the only natural progress is to have personalization touch intact to it e.g. semi-portal coupled with peer to peer messaging. Voila, we got the basic building block for a business model that is indeed promising.

Regardless to the fact that offering 1 GB free sounds appealing, yet it is possible to cause a churn in competitors? serious users who are dependant on long term retention of some ?valuable? emails. I can not see Google spending much on what already was invested hardware wise, as simple calculation to thousands of servers already installed, it is easier to calculate the storage that was already bundled and installed. For our argument purposes, I would consider an average of 60 GB of storage was provided per server ? very classical figure ?, and should be there 10,000 server running, then this would be considered enough for serving 600,000 clients immediately only if they are going to use there allowed quota in full, which is impossible to reach during the first 6 months of full deployment of Gmail! All statistics leads to the sold fact that the average user/customer would use no more than one third of his/her quota (given the fact that larger than 2 MB multi-media attachments? transfer is prohibited to avoid possible copy rights violation). This would translate into an immediate doubling to the size of client base! Shall figures change I would presume it will reflect better forecasting in favor Google.

Not to mention if Gmail offers POP3 and IMAP accessibility that would push more users to ?clean? their accounts and move their ?contents? into their own ?local hard drives?, another increase in storage space that would translate into more quota for other potential subscribers.

However, the investment will be defiantly on the band width usability. Nevertheless, Gmail would be ready to be shipped as a corporate solution with a little bit of value additives to it. Shall we say a MS-Exchange competitor is in the horizon?

B. As for blocking spam, I would believe the only effective way to prevent spam is not to install spam ?reception? blockers software/tools, instead install a spam initiator blocking mechanism. This would require a miniature scanner as an extension to mail servers, only to scan the content of any bulk email at sending time ? only possible through buffering all bulk mail to given enough time for the scanner to work effectively ?, Shall content of the buffered bulk email match with a rate of 90-100% along with a variable recipient?s list, then it is clearly a spam.

The only method to develop such tool would be to have the right proven technology of ?search engine?. Do we need to guess what would be the most superior search engine running so far?

Although the subject is not rounded up entirely, I am pretty much sure that I already flooded the discussion area with enough words, especially after writing this article one shot non-stop!

Shall be any comments, I would appreciate very much if it is shared with me by sending it directly to my email because I am a constant TechRepublic newsletter reader, but not that much of visitor to discussion areas.

Thank you

Dr. Al Olaimi
olaimi@infonovation.com

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

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Do you work for Google?

by DC_GUY In reply to Gmail initiative! A viabl ...

You seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that they intend to scan all incoming and outgoing e-mail with AI and target the recipient with ads that seem to be a good fit, based on the content.

This raises all kinds of legal issues. Scanning mail sent by people who are not their own customers and have not given consent. Keeping addresses on the database after they stop using Google. Doing this outside the U.S. where it's blatantly illegal.

They've got a long way to go before they will get anywhere with this sick scheme.

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OH NO!!!

by Oz_Media In reply to Do you work for Google?

ANOTHER constitutional rights thread up and coming? EEEEEEEEEK! Run screaming!!

Maybe we could sick one of the "This isn't a relevant topic" people on it? it is inevitable that the topic won't be answered conclusively as it is just speculation and it will go off topic into a rights issue soon, oh no it's already started. Gotta run, fast!

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I don't care if they scan my email.

by Steve In reply to Do you work for Google?

the government already has the carnivore program which can intercept and read any email so I'm only losing privacy to a business. I get spammed by business anyway, and too be honest, if the spam is something I'm interested in it bothers me a lot less than random spam of no interest to me. so bring it on. my biggest concern is whether they will keep the gmail program for a long time. I want a single email address for my whole life, not just till the next dot com bust.

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Tradeoff - Online privacy for use of Internet

by GeekGyrrrl In reply to I don't care if they scan ...

The best solution to the dilemma is to simply stay offline if one is overly concerned about privacy. I just assume that being targeted for data collection and demographic statistics is the tradeoff I make to be able to conduct my business and other concerns online.

Personally, I don't care one whit if they scan my email and collect my year of birth. I am far more vulnerable at the company I work at, where every keystroke is logged and my desktop can be watched from anyone in the IT department without provocation.

So, bring on the Google Gig, I say!

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Tradeoff - part 2

by IT Security Guy In reply to Tradeoff - Online privacy ...

Maybe you don't care about what Google wants to do, but in talking about gigabytes of storage for each user, they could potentially do keystroke logging, or atleast find a way to store and download on a scheduled basis. I thought of all that email stored in one place when most people are not up to speed on home use security, gives hackers, spies and others a one-stop-shopping location to dredge for information. I doubt Google would be able to stop hacks and they may even have people 'sign' an agreement that Google wouldn't be held liable if the database is hacked and personal info is stolen or destroyed. With some people's mentality of wanting to get something for nothing, getting gigs of storage for free email sounds great, but for those of us tech people who can see the potential and possibly real problems, it may end up being a nightmare waiting to happen. But that is my three cents worth.

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E-Mail Scanning

by tlea In reply to Do you work for Google?

Something you may want to consider is that many companies and ISPs are already scanning e-mail. My company scans all incomming and outgoing mail for potential spam, virii, and proprietary information. This is necessary to help protect the company's network as well as its intellectual property. The employees of the company are well aware of this, but the folks sending us e-mail don't necessarily know that their e-mail is being scanned.

My internet provider also scans my e-mail for virii and spam. The people sending me e-mail don't necessarily know this either.

Heck, when you think about it, e-mail servers keep copies of a user's e-mail that can be read by pretty much anyone with access to the server. Not very private at all.

All of that said...

The one difference I see is that Google generates advertising based on the content of the e-mail. This means that there is a tracable history of a users e-mail patterns. My company's various e-mail scanning application don't keep any real history of the scanned content. Virus and content scanners may quarantine a message for a period of time, but eventually the message will either be released or deleted, and that's the way it should be.

That is all well and good, except when you consider that the e-mail servers are backed up daily, with monthly and yearly archives.

I guess my point is that if you put something out on the Internet, and expect it to be private, you are kidding yourself. At least Google is being up front about what they are doing and they are offering value, in the form of free e-mail with 1GB of storage, for the information.

Personally I am a fan of Google. I think their products are good, and they have refrained from bombarding me with banner and popup ads, unlike MSN or Yahoo. Based on their track record, I think they are one of a VERY few companies that I would trust to do this right.

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I love having my freedom stepped on

by fourjames11 In reply to Do you work for Google?

I belive DC_GUY hit it on the head when he said there are so many legal issues in scanning email content.

We seem to lose more of it every day. but then agine one does not have to subscribe to this email provider.

I do like the storage that's pretty cool but not worth the loss of my right to privacy. Yet ho ever how much do we really have.

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Agreed

by TomSal In reply to I love having my freedom ...

There's a line in one of the songs I listen too...

"Next thing you know they'll take our thoughts away".

I'm all for protecting the kiddies from the sickos and for making our streets safer to walk at night, but its a complex issue for me as well -- because when is enough going to be enough?

How much Big Brother do we have to endure?

20 years from now, will someone be able to watch me (legally) in my own bathroom in my own house?

Where's the line drawn is all I say?

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RE: I love having my freedom stepped on

by newsletters In reply to I love having my freedom ...

fourjames11 - you hit it exactly.

This is just another *option* for the American (and international) community. And isn't that the great part of being an American - the freedom to make those choices.

Sorry to go off on the good old American rights deal again, but it is an important point in this issue. A right that everyone (in the world) should have is the freedom of choice. What they do with that freedom is up to them.

As for Google's GMail in particular, I think they definitely have a good idea here. As was said previously, if this can be pulled off by anyone, Google is the one I trust to do it. Through the years they have been the search company to stick to their guns and not annoy us as the others have. I believe they are true Internet users before they are Internet entrepenuers - they understand our gripes. I'm sure that's why they're impelementing an extensive testing period and providing as much information as they have up front... not just saying "hey, here's another free e-mail program."

Like all things, time will tell.

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RE: DO YOU WORK FOR GOOGLE

by vltiii In reply to Do you work for Google?

I disagree that there are any legal implications. By applying for an account a subscriber is granting their permission to have their email scanned, and agreeing to be bombarded with ads. Google has made it clear what they intend to do. Each potential user needs to decide for themselves how much are they willing to sacrifice to have 1GB of email storage space.

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