Home > Uncategorized > Gmail: An Exercise in Exclusivity

Gmail: An Exercise in Exclusivity

And now it’s time for a blast from the past.

I remember the day that I got my invite to try this new thing called Gmail in 2004.  Nothing like its current iteration, it was still a breakthrough in terms of service.  Built on the idea that the user would never have to delete email with the initial offering of 1Gb of storage space, it also promised less spam than its competitors.  1 Gb was unheard in any online service back in 2004, a perk that only added to Gmail’s mystique.  The novelty of being able to see the every-increasing amount of storage space every time a user signed in was at the time unique.  The primary driver behind the popularity of Gmail was exclusivity.  Initially, 1000 invites were sent to opinion leaders that allowed them access to the Beta version of Gmail.  These opinion leaders could then extend invites to friends and family.  They became so sought after that invites could be found on Ebay for $150+. The product is a free ad based email system, and yet people were willing to pay for it, what more could a developer hope for for a product roll out.  What this proves is that exclusivity still works.  Even as we move to democratize communication, the power of exclusivity cannot be denied, even in the digital age.  Why did people want to switch to Gmail?  The product itself played a big role in getting and keeping its customers.  Of course there was also that fact that at launch not everyone could have it.

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