Gmail at Nine: The Evolution of an Essential Web Service


In 2004, when Google introduced Gmail, it wasn’t instantly obvious to everyone why the search engine phenom would want to get into the e-mail business. Actually, given that the company made its announcement on April 1, some people wondered, momentarily, whether the news was a hoax. Even once it was clear that Gmail was the real deal, Google felt the need, in the Gmail FAQ, to answer the burning question “Why is Google offering email? I thought you were a search company.”

The era of people being confused by Gmail was so brief that it’s easy to forget such an era ever existed. Gmail quickly became not just one of Google’s core services but one of the web’s core services — the webmail client that came to define webmail clients even though it was far from the first one. Like most things Google does, Gmail hasn’t been without its…

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