In 2004, the yes-its-still-in-beta Google Mail set the world of Web-based mail services back on its heels by offering 1 gigabyte of online mail storage to all its users; Google has since increased that storage allocation to over 2.8 GB and Microsoft has tried to keep up with offering 2 GB of online mail storage, but now rival s plans to put an end to the storage race altogether by offering unlimited mail storage to the roughly 250 million Yahoo Mail users.
Yahoo plans to roll out unlimitd storage beginning in May; until then, users will have to live within existing 1 GB storage allocations. The changeover will take about a month If one gigabyte that seems like a platry number, remember that when Yahoo first introduced its email service (rebranded from RocketMail) back in 1997, it offered four megabytes of storage. David Nakayama, the original developer of RocketMail, recalls: “I remember getting in a room to plan our RocketMail launch over a decade ago and worrying that our original plan of a 2 MB quota wasn’t enough, and that we needed to be radical and double the storage to 4MB per account! It’s ironic that I routinely send and receive individual mail attachments bigger than that now. Our total capacity for mail accounts back then was 200GB for all of our customers. At Yahoo!, we’re now receiving more inbound mail than that every 10 minutes.”
As always, Yahoo Mail is offered strictly for personal use, and is subject to Yahoo’s terms of service against resale and abuse. Yahoo will not be making unlimited mail storage available in Japan or China, although the company is working with its subsidiaries in those countries to improve its online email offerings.
Yahoo’s move no doubt reflects the ever-decreasing cost of digital storage, and users’ increasing inclination to send large images, media files, and other large documents to each other. An unlimited storage capacity may inspire users to think of email archiving as a way of cataloging and recording their lives; however, it may also serve to make Yahoo Mail the world’s largest repository of spam. If, as security companies tell us, 80 to 90 percent of all email these days is spam, and Yahoo Mail users never have to delete anything because their available storage is infinite…Yahoo Mail may, in fact, because our culture’s most permanent record of online scams, frauds, phishing schemes, and unwanted messaging.