Gmail Turns 20: Recalling The Past And Anticipating The Future

Way back in 2004, Google gave new meaning to the phrase, "You've got mail." Gmail Turns 20: Recalling The Past And Anticipating The Future Giphy

News that is entertaining to read

Subscribe for free to get more stories like this directly to your inbox

In the early days of the internet, there were a number of email platforms battling for supremacy. But just like with search engines, online video, and word processing, it wasn’t long before Google swooped in to become the undisputed champion.

A lofty goal

News about Gmail initially surfaced on April 1, 2004, and the big promises contained within the announcement led some to believe it was a corporate April Fools gag. Specifically, the growing Big Tech behemoth promised that its new product would surpass other email platforms in three big ways:

  • Search: Since it was designed with Google’s unmatched capabilities, it would be easier to find specific messages in a sea of emails.
  • Storage: Most rivals offered somewhere around 15 megabytes of storage, but Gmail promised an absolutely massive (for the time) 1 gigabyte.
  • Speed: By getting rid of inefficient folders, Google promised that Gmail would offer a more streamlined and swift user experience.

And by most accounts, Gmail has made good on those goals, which is why the majority of email addresses in your contact list probably end with “”

Unfinished business

But Google can’t afford to rest on its laurels.

The current product has become inundated with ads, social media updates, and other unwanted messages — and with other forms of communication, email just isn’t as crucial to our everyday lives as it was 20 years ago.

Like all tech platforms, AI is probably going to be a big part of how Gmail evolves, but even Google exec Ilya Brown acknowledges that the future is anything but certain.

“We want to think about, you know, the different delightful moments that aren’t always associated with email itself,” Brown said. “Sometimes that’s things you didn’t have to do or things that help you do something faster.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 30th, 2024
Share this story: