On the one-year anniversary of Gmail, Google is doubling the storage limit on e-mail accounts to 2GB and keeping the service as an invite-only beta.
The increase, going live on Friday, is the first of a number of storage bumps that the company is planning in the coming weeks and months, said Georges Harik, product management director for Gmail.
Google Inc. has decided to make an indefinite number of ongoing increases to Gmails storage limits to meet user demand. Since introducing Gmail on April Fools Day a year ago, Google has heard from users wanting to know what happens when, and if, they reach the 1GB cap, Harik said.
“There are people approaching 500 to 600MB, and even 900MB, and people are asking what the plan is for them,” Harik said. “Were trying to stay ahead of any issue [users] may have with Gmail and anticipate their needs.”
The storage boost follows Yahoo Inc.s announcement last week that it will boost free Yahoo Mail accounts to 1GB of storage in late April, matching Gmails previous cap. On paid accounts, Yahoo already provides 2GB of storage.
When Google first unveiled Gmail, it spurred a storage race among the leading Web-based e-mail providers. Along with Yahoo, Microsoft Corp.s MSN Hotmail service also has increased its storage limits by providing free accounts with 250MB and paid accounts with 2GB.
Despite speculation that Google might use the April 1 anniversary to make Gmail broadly available, Harik said that the service will remain an invite-only beta.
But getting invited to Gmail has become easier in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Google began providing random Gmail invites to its home-page visitors. Google also has substantially increased the number of invites available to current Gmail users.
With the storage boosts, Google plans to offer increases simultaneously to both current and new Gmail users, Harik said. He said exact dates and storage targets for the upcoming increases were not available but it would occur in “short periods of time.”
In other Google news, the company Thursday announced a feature for the Mozilla Firefox browser that speeds the loading of the top Web page in Google search results.
Google now instructs Firefox and other Mozilla browser to download the top search result in advance, Google software engineer Reza Behforooz wrote in the Google Blog.
“So if you click on it, youll get to that page even more quickly,” Behforooz wrote.
Also, on Wednesday, Google released a stock-quote feature that lets users type in a ticker symbol in its search-query box to retrieve stock information. Google is receiving a direct feed of market information to provide the capability.
The ticker-symbol lookup also works in Google SMS (Short Message Service), the companys mobile offering for retrieving targeted search results through mobile messaging.