Google Ups Email Storage Space to 2GB

A year after unveiling a free e-mail service with a full gigabyte of storage, Google Inc. is doubling the capacity of its Gmail email service to 2 gigabytes (GB). The company plans to continue expanding the limit as fast as technology allows, a Google executive said Thursday.

The changes take effect Friday, the company said. There are no plans at the moment to increase Gmailis current 10 megabyte (MB) attachment size limit, or to add features that could effectively turn Gmail into an external hard drive.

"Our goal is to make sure storage is no longer an issue for Web mail users," said Marissa Mayer, Googleis director of consumer Web products.

Ms. Mayer said Google can offer so much capacity because of the way the company has set up its computer systems, but declined to say what the company might do in the future.

The announcement was made on the first anniversary of the Internet search engineis launch of Gmail, and is being seen as the next salvo in the battle for customers being waged between Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Just last week, Yahoo said it would offer 1GB of storage to users of its free service beginning next month. When Google introduced Gmail, Yahoo was providing just 4MB of storage. Microsoft Hotmail now offers 250MB.

Apple Computer does not offer free storage or free e-mail services. Its pay service, .Mac, offers 125MB of .Mac mail and 125MB of virtual hard disk storage for US$99.95 a year, along with other services. Gmail is free to use, but does feature text ads that accompany each mail message and are based on the topics found in each e-mail.