AOL Enters E-Mail Storage Market

America Online isn't about to concede the premium mail storage race to Microsoft, Yahoo or Google.

America Online Inc. wants a piece of the premium e-mail storage pie.

Looking to nudge its way into the mail storage market dominated by the likes of Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and Google Inc., AOL said its ICQ (I Seek You) subsidiary is rolling out a $19.99-a-year e-mail service offering 2GB of storage.

The premium ICQmail, which is powered by Los Angeles-based Mail2World Inc., will also offer bells and whistles like personal calendaring, WAP access to Web-based mail, mail-forwarding to wireless devices, and support for POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP.

Paying ICQmail users will also get access to compression technology to handle large attachments and the ability to schedule delivery of outgoing mail, create distribution groups and set up auto-responses, according to an AOL spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman told the new premium service will compete directly with similar services offered by Yahoo and Microsoft.

Yahoos premium mail service offers identical storage size (2GB) for $19.99 a year. Yahoo also plans to increase the storage size for its free mail version—from 100MB to 250MB.

Microsofts MSN is also boosting its higher Hotmail storage limits to new customers and is in the final stages of giving additional storage to current customers. Last week, the company started offering 250MB of storage to new users of free Hotmail accounts in the United States and eight other countries. New accounts previously received 2MB of storage.

Googles invite-only GMail beta offers 1GB of storage space for free.

AOLs ICQ unit also announced an upgrade to its free mail offering, which will now feature advanced virus scan, spam filtering, e-mail translation and new customization features. The free offering limits users to 6MB of storage.

In addition, the company plans to integrate the mail offerings directly on the ICQ instant messenger client to offer one-click access to mailboxes.


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